Small Business Saturday is no longer a small operation. It has become a big deal nationwide.
Launched by American Express in 2010, this event celebrates brick-and-mortar businesses that are small and local and have to compete, especially during the holidays, against big-box stores and e-commerce. It is a formidable challenge, but the more modest operations are making headway – especially in Pennsylvania.
Statewide, Small Business Saturday was the 17th-best revenue day of 2017, according to the business-solutions website womply.com. The site analyzed transactions last year at 54,000 local, independent retailers nationwide, and its comprehensive report included a holiday season study of Pennsylvania.
Womply found Keystone State retailers experienced a 38 percent increase in sales over an average day, 11th best nationally.
Now it is here. Small Business Saturday will kick into gear this morning in venues far and wide, and will be prevalent in Washington and Greene counties. Washington, Monongahela, Claysville, Canonsburg, Peters Township and Waynesburg are among the participating communities.
Washington, literally, has a half-day of events planned: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. At last count, 27 businesses – mostly on Main Street and several on side streets off Main – will participate.
“It’s a nice mix of businesses,” said Will Prince, Main Street manager with the Washington Business District Authority. “People who have favorite businesses will become familiar with other shops.”
The Marketplace at Emerald Valley is partnering with Boney’s House of Groom, of Scenery Hill, to provide $5 pony rides at the pavilion from 11 a.m. to 3p.m. (These are rescued ponies.) A photo booth has been set up courtesy of Ivy Green.
Revelers who purchase a passport and visit 10 shops will be eligible to win a raffle basket that includes local products and gift cards. The winner will be announced Tuesday.
“So much of this is making family experiences,” said Alisa Fava Fasnacht, co-owner of Emerald Valley with his sister, Racquelle Rockwell.
A number of Monongahela businesses will be participating today. That Mon Valley city has a vibrant retail district, and while Anthony Bottino, president of Monongahela Chamber of Commerce, is fully supportive of these events, he prefers that every day be considered a small business day.
“We encourage all businesses to participate, but it’s really about encouraging people to shop local,” he said. “Hopefully, (this day) it is more about raising awareness about local businesses raising revenue and tax money and boosting employment.
“I say people should be interested in local businesses 365 days a year.”
High Street in downtown Waynesburg will be a busy location, with shopping and family-related events from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This is a day for small businesses to be big businesses.