Merchants await Small Business Saturday with glee

DOVER — Americans spend billions every year on Black Friday, buying laptops, video games, clothes, kids’ toys and whatever the flavor-of-the-month item is. Most of that money goes to major chains, the proverbial big-box stores.

While titans like Walmart and Sears profit from the Super Bowl of shopping, it’s easy for small businesses to get left in the dust. Those stores may not have shareholders, do millions in sales every day or be nationally known, but they play a crucial role in communities across America.

Referred to as “the engine of job growth” by the White House, small businesses are an integral part of society. Central Delaware is no different.

While Kent County is home to Targets and Best Buys, GameStops and Home Depots, it has plenty of other companies as well. Local outlets like Forney’s Too, the Delaware Store and Tiffanee and Co. Bakery help make up the fabric of the community.

It’s for these stores that Small Business Saturday exists.

Photorapher Gary Knox of Dover, owner of Forney’s Too on Loockerman Street, is celebrating Small Business Saturday with a 10 percent off sale on all items in his store but some items, including his photography merchandise, are 30 percent that day in celebration of his 30th anniversary in business. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Photorapher Gary Knox of Dover, owner of Forney’s Too on Loockerman Street, is celebrating Small Business Saturday with a 10 percent off sale on all items in his store but some items, including his photography merchandise, are 30 percent that day in celebration of his 30th anniversary in business. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Created in 2010, Small Business Saturday has become a boon to many local entrepreneurs.

“It was the best day last year all year,” said Jan Crumpley, owner of the Delaware Store.

Located at 325 S. State St., the store is one of 17 Dover businesses taking part in special promotion aimed at boosting sales during the holiday season. Anyone who shops at a downtown store Saturday can present the receipt to one of the 17 participating stores and receive 10 percent off until Christmas Eve.

Small Business Saturday is overseen by American Express and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with hundreds of communities taking part. Much to the delight of local businesses, Dover is an official 2015 participant.

“Any time that we can promote our local businesses, I think it’s important to do that,” said Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce President Judy Diogo. “We all get caught up in ordering things online and shopping at big box stores, and there’s nothing wrong with any of that, but at the end of the day, as residents, as neighbors, as co-workers of all these people, it’s nice to remember that they’re our friends and our colleagues, they’re running these shops.”

One business owner with high expectations for Saturday is Gary Knox, who runs Forney’s Too at 102 W. Loockerman St. While the store has a variety of offerings, it specializes in unique gifts and collectibles.

“People have already been asking about what we’re doing,” Mr. Knox said Tuesday.

The answer to that question is storewide sales.

Most items will be 10 percent off, with a few special categories 30 percent off. The four categories — the beach collection, Mr. Knox’s photography, Mud Pie fashion and Waxing Poetic charms — were picked by employees.

It will the second Small Business Saturday for Tiffanee Lee-Scott, owner of Tiffanee & Co. Bakery. (Delaware State News file)

It will the second Small Business Saturday for Tiffanee Lee-Scott, owner of Tiffanee & Co. Bakery. (Delaware State News file)

That 30 percent discount is not just an arbitrary figure but is in celebration of the business’s 30 years. Small Business Saturday will serve as a kickoff of sorts, with more special events to come next month.

Forney’s Too has been participating in Small Business Saturday since it began five years ago, Mr. Knox said, noting turnout has increased every year.

“Last year we were slammed,” he said.

Although Mr. Knox does not expect to see a large increase in foot traffic Friday, he will have a special deal: a black glass bead from the Trollbead line.

Another downtown store taking part in the special 10 percent deal is Tiffanee & Co. Bakery. Located at 147 S. Governors Ave., the bakery will be open until 3 p.m., two hours later than on a normal Saturday.

Owner Tiffanee Lee-Scott is excited to participate in her second Small Business Saturday and plans to raffle off a cake.

She’s looking forward to the day for another reason as well.

“I wanted to partake in the shopping, too,” she said with a laugh.

Helen McCusker, owner of Merle Norman, says Small Business Saturday makes shoppers more aware of the need to support locally owned businesses. (Delaware State News file)

Helen McCusker, owner of Merle Norman, says Small Business Saturday makes shoppers more aware of the need to support locally owned businesses. (Delaware State News file)

Not far from downtown Dover, Helen McCusker, owner of Merle Norman, has expectations for the day after Black Friday. Ms. McCusker will offer refreshments, door prizes and an opportunity to win a $100 shopping trip at her cosmetics store at 1030 Forrest Ave.

She has been participating in Small Business Saturday for several years and thinks it’s had a positive impact on her store.

As a whole, the day helps “make people aware you have to support your small businesses because someday they could be gone,” she said.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., toured local stores in Dover Wednesday and urged Delawareans to patronize the locales.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” he said in a statement. “They are job creators and innovators. There are many bustling main streets in Delaware communities like New Castle and Dover, and I encourage Delawareans to seek them out not only this Saturday but throughout the year. Shoppers are not only supporting their local business, they are sustaining jobs and their community.”

Ms. Diogo thinks one reason local stores stand out is due to their personal, human nature, where customer service can be key to standing out from chains.

The chamber has been running advertisements to notify potential shoppers about the deals, and Dover’s inclusion on the list of communities taking part Saturday gives the capital nationwide exposure.

Like Sen. Carper, she noted community outlets help in other ways as well.
“When you look at the real makeup of Delaware and Kent County, small businesses are really the ones that employ the majority of the people,” she said.

Each Forney’s Too employee was asked to pick a section of the store to be placed at 30 percent off on Small Business Saturday to honor the store’s 30th anniversary. Susan Bulley of Dover, a 15-year employee, picked the Mud Pie women’s fashion and accessories section. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Each Forney’s Too employee was asked to pick a section of the store to be placed at 30 percent off on Small Business Saturday to honor the store’s 30th anniversary. Susan Bulley of Dover, a 15-year employee, picked the Mud Pie women’s fashion and accessories section. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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