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Shop owners ready for Small Business Saturday

Keep in mind the ‘real deal’

Ashley Alejandro and her boyfriend, Jeff Mitchell, both of Granville, take a look at fish in an aquarium at Andy’s Pet Shop in Peru. The pet shop, along with stores around the area, is getting ready for Small Business Saturday this weekend.
Ashley Alejandro and her boyfriend, Jeff Mitchell, both of Granville, take a look at fish in an aquarium at Andy’s Pet Shop in Peru. The pet shop, along with stores around the area, is getting ready for Small Business Saturday this weekend.

It might not draw the hubbub that comes with Black Friday, but it still is an important day for the shop.

Jeremy Reed of That Guy’s Secret in La Salle is expecting a big day — maybe the biggest shopping day of the year for his men’s clothing store.

“I feel like this is the No. 1 weekend for all of us small businesses,” Reed said. “I’m expecting it to be a little bit busier with having a shorter time between the holidays.”

Local businesses around the Illinois Valley are getting ready for “Small Business Saturday,” the Saturday after Thanksgiving that was first observed as a shopping holiday in 2010 as a promotion for American Express (the term “Small Business Saturday” is trademarked by the credit card company). While it is a big business that got the trend started, the concept has remained the same — shop at locally owned brick and mortar stores.

“It’s definitely growing. People have more awareness of it,” said Andy Arnold, owner of Andy’s Pet Shop in Peru.

Arnold too is expecting a good amount of foot traffic in his store. He said it is nice that local stores were able to carve out their own special day of shopping surrounded by the big box stores’ Black Friday and the internet’s Cyber Monday.

“It’s nice because they all get their individual days,” he said. “I think especially considering Black Friday is the day before people might be exhausted, but this gives them another round of shopping.”

But Black Friday and Cyber Monday don’t have much direct effect on the Illinois Valley’s economy. While holiday shopping is the key concept of each day, local leaders remind residents that shopping at area stores has an immediate local impact.

“When I think of Black Friday, it’s all about the lowest prices on the currently popular items. When I think of Shop Small Saturday, I think of the ‘deal’ as being buying local at businesses that support the community all year long,” said Spring Valley economic development director Debb Ladgenski. “I see examples all of the time of how our local businesses give back to Spring Valley. They sponsor sports teams, educational activities, park programs, city beautification, our fire department and other local organizations. All this on top of creating sales and property taxes that pays for city services. While many are offering special prices or rewards for their products on Shop Small Saturday, that you don’t want to miss, keep in mind the real deal that shopping local brings.”

Every town is different, but most present a unified front for their small businesses with other activities going on to help draw people to town. For example, in Spring Valley, there is the Santas on the Run 5K in the morning and the Lighted Santa Parade in the evening in conjunction with the shopping specials offered by small businesses.

“It offers a more complete day of fun for visitors who come to town for any of the individual events and encourages them to stay and dine and shop, too. Many residents also have families here for the Thanksgiving holiday and it provides things for families to participate in together,” Ladgenski said.

In Princeton, the Main Street businesses also see extra foot traffic, and the more businesses promote the day, the more people come out and shop.

“I would say it’s a very big deal. We get a lot of shoppers out in downtown,” said Melissa Jesse of the Five 22 clothing store. “It’s one of the biggest days of the year. And we’ve gotten new stores in town that weren’t here last year.”

Reed said the early snowfall this year sparked some early shopping from people,

“It kind of scared people into a shopping mode,” he said.

But as the weather warmed up, the sense of urgency for holiday shopping faded a little. People will have a little less time to get their shopping done between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year as Thanksgiving falls as late in the calendar as possible.

The main hope is that the weather holds up and doesn’t put a damper on the shopping experience. As of Monday, the National Weather Service showed rain was likely in the forecast for Saturday with a high in the 50s. Reed doesn’t expect weather will kill the vibe too much though, as weekend shopping following the Thanksgiving holiday is a deeply engrained tradition for many.

“They’ll deal with inclement weather no matter what,” he said. “So, hopefully we see everybody out for this shopping weekend.”

Brett Herrmann can be reached at (815) 220-6933 or bherrmann@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_Herrmann.

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