12/01/13 — Small businesses get a chance to strut their stuff

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Small businesses get a chance to strut their stuff

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on December 1, 2013 1:50 AM

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Owner of Ray-Leigh's Gifts and More, Shelly Anderson, left, assists Jean and Danielle St. Clair with choosing the perfect gifts for their friends and family in her store on Saturday. Anderson offered discounts throughout the day on Small Business Saturday, a day to encourage customers to shop at local brick and mortar businesses.

Small Business Saturday was pretty much a normal day for most of Goldsboro's small business owners. But the designation did give some a chance to offer customers special deals while shining a light on the often overlooked importance of small businesses to the local economy.

The day after Black Friday was first designated as Small Business Saturday a couple of years ago as a national marketing ploy.

It hasn't drawn the attention that its more publicized rival has, but several small business owners interviewed Saturday said that might change, given time.

Stephen Barnes, the manager at Barnes Jewelry, used Facebook to his business's advantage by posting deals on watches and Pandora Jewelry online. On Saturday morning, the store's staff were looking forward to a busy day after a somewhat slow start.

"Small Business Saturday, in my opinion, is a great way to support the community. It doesn't get the publicity that it should," Barnes said. "I think what separates small "Mom 'n Pop" stores like ourselves is our personal service and the support we give to the community."

The day also gave new businesses a reason to reach out to potential customers.

Dan's NASCAR Collectibles on U.S. 70 East opened recently and the business was pushing deals Saturday. Owner Dan Dixon's NASCAR memorabilia store started last month, and he's hoping for a good Christmas season.

"I think small businesses should get more attention. The public doesn't realize that small businesses have unique items that big-box stores don't have. I don't think Walmart has NASCAR," Dixon said.

Dixon rattled off a list of some rare items that would be impossible to find at a large chain store -- 1/64 scale, 1/24 scale, ash trays, knives, and car transporter models of both new and old NASCAR drivers.

"You name it, I probably got it," he said.

But he admitted that going it alone has its drawbacks.

"Being a small business is tough," he said. "I don't have a chain of NASCAR stores. One is enough."

Like most small business operators, Dixon alluded to the hard work and decision-making involved in being your own boss.

"We're open seven days a week," he said, "and I don't refuse reasonable offers."

Mike Wiggins, owner of Bicycle World/The Outdoor Shoppe, said he hadn't expected a rush of customers just because the day had a special designation.

"Most people don't realize that it's Small Business Saturday," Wiggins said as he rang up a discounted pair of shoes. Wiggins reasoned that his business's Saturday success was because of the holiday shopping season and not necessarily "Small Business Saturday."

But he said he believes the day will grow in importance.

"As it gets more well known in three to four years, then you'll see more people and more prominence," he predicted.

"We appreciate people who shop local," he added. "If they shopped only online, they wouldn't physically see the items or touch them. And shopping local supports the community."

Fellow Ash street business owner Sam Jernigan wasn't expecting droves of people outside his business, Jernigan Furniture, on Saturday. But the beginning of holiday shopping has already made a difference in his ledger books, he said. Black Friday pulled a lot of foot traffic into the high-quality furniture store.

"So far the holiday season has been brisk and positive," Jernigan said. "This is the biggest month for us."

It should be. All those Black Friday televisions are often set up in entertainment centers that Jernigan Furniture sells, he pointed out.

Swop Shop manager Johnnie Carr said he didn't expect business to boom because of the designated day. But he did create a Facebook post on the pawn shop's deals on instruments, jewelry and used furniture.

Another new business, Ray Leigh's Gift Store, also used Small Business Saturday as a way to draw more people in the store. Owner Shelly Anderson sent out emails and Facebook posts about her store's deals. She even created a schedule of certain deals being available per hour to draw in foot traffic. And her efforts were mostly successful, she said.

"It's better than a normal Saturday," she said. "It's been sporadic, but a good day overall."

One business that was having an exceptionally good Saturday was Best & Sauls Men's Shop.

"So far, it's been good. We've done all we can do. We have a sale on everything. Our advertisements must have worked," owner Jerry Best said.

Best admitted that Black Friday drew more shoppers, but business was still good Saturday.

"A man was standing at the door when we opened, and it's been going since then," he said.