November 26, 2012

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Small Business Saturday Helps Boost Sales at Independently Owned Shops in Downtown Athens

November 24, 2012

Store owner Shannon Bryant, left, helps customer Tracey Lawrence pick out Christmas decorations at Pimento's in downtown Athens on Small Business Saturday. (Kelly Kazek/

ATHENS, Alabama -- The streets of downtown Athens weren't as packed Saturday as malls and big-box stores, but a steady stream of shoppers was out supporting Small Business Saturday, a day designated to help mom-and-pops benefit from the post-Thanksgiving rush.

Hubert Crow, who owns Pablo's on Market with his wife Carolyn, said the act of designating the day helps people remember locally owned businesses at a time when shoppers head to malls and shopping centers with chain stores.

"It does bring people in," Crow said Saturday morning. He said traffic had been steady in the bookstore/lunch counter.

The day was conceived by American Express in 2010 but has since been promoted by the Small Business Administration and other retail groups.

Karen Mills of the Small Business Administration wrote in her blog recently that "small businesses are the backbone of our communities. And when we shop small, we not only get great products and services, but we support our neighbors and strengthen our local economies. Over the last two decades, small and new businesses have been responsible for creating two out of every three net new jobs in the U.S., and today over half of all working Americans own or work for a small business."

Local artist Carole Foret, who owns a gallery downtown, said the event impacts the entire community. 

"Small Business Saturday is very important to promote sales that support our Athens, Ala., economy," she said. "It's also important to stimulate small businesses since we have been hit so hard by the recessed economy we've been living with for quite some time. I appreciate this day so much and experienced one of the best sales days I can remember."

Shannon Bryant, who owns the gift shop Pimento's in downtown Athens, had additional employees on hand Saturday to help with the crowd of customers in her store.

"It's been a great start-up to the Christmas season," she said. "I think it's important to shop local people people don't realize the taxes they pay here go to our schools and our roads."

Trisha Black, director of the downtown revitalization group Spirit of Athens, said designation of the day is important in helping people understand the impact of independent businesses.

"I'm encouraged to see that people know the value of supporting our small businesses and to see a nationwide movement to do so," she said.

Black said people can better understand the impact of small businesses on the economy by learning about The 3/50 Project.

Its purpose is to show the impact of spending $50 per month at locally owned businesses. Here is a look at the program's mission:

1. Think of three independently owned businesses you would miss if they disappeared and buy something there each month.

2. If half the employed population spent $50 each month in locally owned independent businesses, it would generate more than 42.6 billion in revenue.

3. For every $100 spent in locally owned stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures. If that same amount is spent in a national chain, only $43 stays local; of that money spent online, none returns to the community.

According to the SBA, Small Business Saturday boosted many "Main Street" businesses in 2011, with more than 100 million Americans shopping at independently-owned small businesses.

"By shopping small, we can help America's small businesses do what they do best: grow their businesses, create good jobs, and ensure that our communities are vibrant," Mills said in her blog.

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