Local residents encouraged to ‘shop small’

By John Bush - [email protected]

LIMA — Business and community leaders are urging local residents to shop small on Saturday.

Small Business Saturday, which occurs annually on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, is an opportunity for shoppers to patronize brick-and-mortar businesses that are small and local. The event is a counterpart to shopping holidays such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which typically feature big box retailers.

“It’s very easy to sit behind a computer and order from some big retailers, but I think it’s important we realize what’s in our own backyard,” said Kathy Keller, project coordinator for the Small Business Development Center at Rhodes State College. “It’s important to spend dollars locally because they [small businesses] are the ones who support our local economy.”

Through the Small Business Development Center, Keller partners with local chambers of commerce to become a “neighborhood champion” for small businesses in an eight-county area. Keller and business representatives work with American Express, which provides promotional materials the chamber dispenses to small businesses.

In the weeks leading up to Small Business Saturday, officials deliver banners, floor mats, decals, canvas shopping bags and other promotional materials to each business that wants to participate.

One of these promotional items is a heart decal that reads, “Show Love, Shop Small.” Customers are encouraged to take a photo with the heart decal and share it on social media with the hashtag “ShopSmall.”

Individuals who share their photo on social media will be entered to win prizes through American Express. Those who use their American Express card while shopping at small businesses will also benefit, as their credit card rewards will double for each purchase.

Dozens of small businesses in northwest Ohio will participate in the event, including several in Allen, Auglaize and Putnam counties.

Nicole Scott, communications director for the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce, said more than 60 small businesses will participate in this year’s event. Participating businesses include Alter Ego Comics, Sara’s Sweets, Simply Torn, Yazel’s Flowers & Gifts, Shirley’s Gourmet Popcorn, Beauty by Jill and more.

“Small businesses are the economic engines of our economy, so supporting them helps create jobs in the local market and preserve our culture,” Scott said. “It also helps keep the tax dollars in the community, and that’s important for our economy.”

Nan Schneider, director of the Wapakoneta Area Chamber of Commerce, said nearly all of the city’s small businesses will participate in the event, including the antique and specialty shops in the downtown area.

“The whole idea is to be together — to be part of the small downtown experience,” Schneider said. “You’re not just shopping, you are truly experiencing Wapakoneta, and that’s what makes the difference.

“You can’t get the Wapak experience on Amazon.”

In the Ottawa area, 27 small businesses will participate and many are offering special deals. A full list of participating businesses can be found at facebook.com/Ottawaareachamberofcommerce.

Amy Sealts, executive director of the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce, said while the bulk of participants are located in Ottawa, some businesses in Glandorf, Bluffton and other communities will participate.

Sealts said local residents should support small businesses because they are the “heartbeat of the community.”

“They’re the people supporting our parks, churches, schools and other community organizations all year round, so this is our way to give back,” Sealts said. “It’s our way to thank our small businesses because, without them, our community wouldn’t be what it is.”

By John Bush

[email protected]

Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima

Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima

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