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Gainesville Retailers Prepare For Small Business Saturday

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Gainesville retailers are preparing for the second-most celebrated shopping day of the year.

While national super stores such as Walmart and Best Buy are working overtime in preparation for Black Friday, local brick-and-mortar stores are gearing up for Small Business Saturday. The pseudo-shopping holiday, which falls on the Saturday after Black Friday, was originally created by American Express in 2010 to encourage shoppers to support locally-owned businesses, as opposed to shopping online or at retail chains.

In 2014, it was estimated that $14.3 billion was spent by 88 million shoppers at small, local businesses on Small Business Saturday, according to the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey conducted by National Federation of Independent Business and American Express.

Businesses across the country have taken the idea and made it their own, using the post-Thanksgiving shopping craze to benefit locally owned stores.

Andrew Schaer, the owner of Hear Again Music and Movies in downtown Gainesville, thinks it’s great for businesses of any size that Black Friday and Small Business Saturday exist.

“When people think of Black Friday, they think of standing in line for hours and getting a $700 TV for $300,” he said. “We’re not blowing everything out at 50 percent off, but we’re definitely having sales.”

Schaer said he’ll open later on Black Friday because customers tend to come in later that day after spending the early morning hours waiting in lines at larger retailers.

Steve Cannon, the director of membership for the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, said that the organization supports small businesses.

About 90 percent of businesses that are members of the Chamber of Commerce have 25 employees or fewer, he said.

Despite the exodus of students from Gainesville during the holiday weekend, local businesses do not lose out. University of Florida students only account for about 20 percent of the 180,000 business patrons in the region, according to Cannon.

Nava Ottenberg, the owner of Persona Vintage Clothing, said that small businesses are often forgotten in the wake of Black Friday.

“I fight for small businesses, which I believe are the fabric of our community,” she said.

Persona Vintage Clothing has been open in Gainesville for 35 years.

“It’s essential for local businesses to survive,” she said. “There wouldn’t be any distinction between this town and any other [without them].”

Ottenberg said that her favorite things about owning a small business were the sense of community, unique products and high-quality customer service. The store showcases products that are made locally, including jewelry crafted by artists in Gainesville.

“I like being able to select what I want and not be cookie-cutter,” she said.

About Caitlin Franz

Caitlin is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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