GENESEO – Small Business Saturday meant big sales for retailers in Geneseo as the holiday shopping season got underway.
“The holidays are where we gather most of our sales for the year and it is good to support local,” said Keith Walters, owner of The Gallery in the Valley, 79 Main St.
Small Business Saturday was first observed in 2010 and always takes place on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. It is similar to Black Friday or Cyber Monday but instead of shopping at big box retail stores or online Small Business Saturday encourages shopping to support the local economy and local businesses.
“I think it is really important to support the small businesses because there are a lot of people who have families and are trying to make a living,” said Geneseo resident Jessica, who did not want to give last name.
Bringing in extra foot traffic has become increasingly important for smaller retail shops over the years, particularly as online shopping from Amazon and larger retailers has become more common. In 2021, 51 million shoppers participated in Small Business Saturday, according to the National Retail Federation.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, when consumers spend $100 at a small business, $48 stays in the community. The same $100 spent at a big-box store or national retailer keeps only $14 in the community.
“Shopping local keeps your dollars here in Livingston County supporting your friends, neighbors and the communities where we live,” said Bill Bacon, Livingston County’s director of economic development. “When you shop at a small business…, you’re not just investing in the business, you’re investing in yourself and your community. You’re helping your neighbors keep their jobs, and you may even be helping to create new local jobs. The bottom line is when we shop local, we all benefit.”
For Walters, Small Business Saturday is a day that not only helps bring in business, but helps to showcase the work of local artists at his shop. In 2020, Walters along with his wife Joanna and Lauren Wadsworth opened the Gallery in the Valley. Every month they host a rotating exhibit that features the work of different local artists.
“I think it is really important to support the arts because the arts play a central role in the community and just about every artist that we have here is local. So what you can get here that you can not get at other places is the work of local artists,” said Walters.
At Georgia’s Clothes Horse, 99 Main St., owner Georgia Walther was also hoping for some big sales. To help bring in even more business she offers a 20% discount during the week of Thanksgiving and says what helps keep her business going is a lot repeat customers,
She said shopping local is now more important than ever.
“If they don’t shop local, we will not be here,” said Walther.
Mann’s Jewelers owners David Mann agrees, though he said for him Small Business Saturday is no different than any other Saturday.
“I always say ‘buy local or goodbye local’ and I wish that more people would embrace their local businesses, whether it be mine or anyone else on Main Street,” Mann said. “Shopping habits have changed. We can offer what online companies can’t offer and it is difficult to get the younger people to realize that, but we are doing okay. We have been here for 72 or 73 years, so we must be doing something right.”
Newly-licensed master barber Jackson Locke has not been around that long but said he is hoping for a long career and that events such as Small Business Saturday are a crucial day for sales.
“Half the money that I make is on Saturday. That is when I get the most walk-ins and especially as a new barber it is really important to be here,” Locke said. “Small businesses seemed to have died during COVID, a lot of restaurants, a lot barbers, one of my best friends lost his barber shop during COVID, so it is really nice to see a lot of places coming around again. We have a new owner here so it is nice to see growth again.”