Posted: Nov 24, 2012 9:21 PM by Megan Johnson
Updated: Nov 24, 2012 10:28 PM
JEFFERSON CITY - More than 75 small businesses in Jefferson City participated in a citywide "Small Business Saturday" event on Saturday. The holiday was created in 2010 by American Express in an attempt to gain attention for mom-and-pop type stores struggling during the recession. Most of the stores Saturday saw huge gains in sales.
"It was wonderful," said Sam Bushman, owner of Samuel's Tuxedos. "It's kind of like the old days. Back in the 70s, our Saturdays were jam-packed with people. Before malls...that's what today was like."
"It was packed," said Donna Deetz, owner of Click2Sell4U. "All day."
Business owners said they saw hundreds more people than a typical Saturday. Deetz owns The Trolley Company in Jefferson City, whose trolleys ran for free during the day to transport shoppers to and from different districts.
"It's calmer, not as hectic," said Mark Castrop, a trolley driver. "You can talk to people, people don't get upset." As compared to Black Friday crowds, Castrop said, the small business shoppers were much more pleasant.
Shoppers echoed this statement.
"You don't have to fight people for what you want," said shopper Jacob Rollins. "I've been out Black Friday shopping before...I didn't like it."
While small businesses like those in Jefferson City's downtown district generally don't carry the big ticket items that attract Black Friday shoppers, Bushnell said they offer a different experience.
"We'll be excited to see you come in the door," he said. "We'll wait on you, we'll gift wrap, we'll treat you like we appreciate your business."
"Most of the businesses downtown are small businesses," said Deetz. "We were very lucky this year. Downtown had 95% participation, Eastside had 90%. That's a lot of businesses for a small town."
Businesses had to be locally owned and employ fewer than 25 people to be considered a "small business."