Small Business Saturday campaign puts emphasis on local shopping

Delaware Director of the Small Business Administration John Fleming looks at art with Parke Green Gallery co-owner Taylor Collins on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — The next few weeks are oh so crucial.

And potentially lucrative.

At least one local small business owner believes strong sales await this holiday gift buying season.

“People are positive and really starting to want American made,” said Taylor Collins, who co-owns and operates the

SMALL BUSINESS SURVEY
A 2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey found:
• As much as 80 percent of all consumers surveyed say at least some of their holiday shopping will be done at small, independently-owned retailers or restaurants.
• 75 percent of all consumers surveyed are planning on going to one or more small businesses as part of their holiday shopping.
• 90 percent of all consumers surveyed agree it is important for them to support small, independently-owned restaurants and bars.
• Of consumers who are aware of Small Business Saturday, 89 percent agree that the day encourages them to Shop Small all year long, not just during the holiday season.
• For those who are aware and who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday, 44 percent plan to spend more this year compared to last year.

Delaware Store and Parke Green Galleries in historic downtown Dover with Jan Crumpley.

“It’s in the news and they want something that’s local and want to support the local person who provided it.”

Approximately 25 to 30 percent of annual sales are typically generated between Small Business Saturday and Christmas, Ms. Collins said. She described last year as “the pits” but 2017 has provided far more positive momentum.

The Kent County Tourism office has made this year “wonderful” by pushing a local agenda of small business promotion, Ms. Collins said.

A ‘Byway Buck’ coupon voucher can be redeemed at participating small businesses throughout the state with discounts and deals as the payoff.

The program is connected to the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, the path slaves traveled from the South to freedom prior to the Civil War.

Kent and New Castle County businesses on the byway route will accept the byway bucks for deals on goods and services. Byway Bucks can be downloaded and printed from www.TubmanBywayDelaware.org and are available at locations statewide including visitors centers, Camden and Wyoming town halls, among others. They can also be displayed on mobile device screens.

A list of participating businesses is available on the Tubman Byway Delaware page online, along with the Delaware Byway Bucks Facebook Page.

Delaware Director of the Small Business Administration John Fleming looks at art at the Parke Green Gallery on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

According to Delaware Department of Transportation Byway Coordinator Michael Hahn, the program “invites small business owners, these Delawareans to be ambassadors for Delaware’s story.”

This year, Ms. Collins said Delaware Blue Hen paintings and ornaments are already hot items for sale at the venue at 331 S. State Street.

“Everyone is looking for that unique gift and art is that one of a kind item,” she said.

A print of The Green celebrating Dover’s upcoming 300th birthday anniversary is going fast too, Ms. Collins said.

“It’s a great gift if you’re new to the area, leaving the area, having a baby, moving into a home,” she said.

Pointing to a 13 percent increase in Small Business Saturday sales in 2016, Small Business Administration Delaware Director John Fleming believes the stores are making hay despite increased competition.

“We all know the rise of online retail …” Mr. Fleming said. “Even though that has happened and that’s a troubling trend, small business sales have increased.”

Also, Mr. Fleming pointed to the two-thirds of all jobs created by small businesses, which he described as the “heart of the economy.”

A Small Business Saturday sticker on the front door at the Parke Green Gallery in Dover on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

At a Tuesday morning ceremony on the Old State House steps at The Green in Dover, State Rep. Lyndon Yearick, R-Camden, read a proclamation from the House of Representatives acknowledging the continuing importance of a robust market for small business items.

“Small business and tourism are extremely vital and we’re going to do everything we can to promote it,” he said.

Created by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday prompts shoppers to seek out local businesses with strong community ties.

“Small Business Saturday provides people an opportunity to discover and celebrate the variety of small businesses that make their communities thrive,” said American Express Executive Vice President Elizabeth Rutledge.

“Beyond visiting their favorite go-to spots, shoppers say Small Business Saturday inspires them to visit places they have not been to before and would not have otherwise tried.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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