With the holiday shopping season right around the corner, many people are looking to find the perfect gift. From department stores to online marketplaces, one might be able to find gifts for the entire family in one stop during sales like Black Friday.
But, there is another sale day that people should be thinking about and it involves establishments right in their backyard –Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday, which is Nov. 30, is a shopping day that encourages people to consider smaller, local businesses in their community.
The Cleveland Jewish News spoke with some of these local businesses about why shoppers should support local businesses and the impact these businesses have on the communities they serve.
Calvetta Brothers Floor Show
Austin Calvetta, partner at Calvetta Brothers Floor Show in Bedford Heights, Mentor, Northfield and Westlake, said small businesses provide a “different level of service.”
“We’re obviously out in the public, we eat at the same places as our customers and we go out to the same places, too,” he said. “It’s much more connected. Most of us have kids and they hang out together, too. So, it’s those smaller things where the big corporations don’t usually get involved.”
Calvetta noted small businesses play an important role in the local economy.
“We make up a large part of retail,” he said. “We’re paying our taxes and employing people. Our business does its best to sell products made here in the U.S. and locally. And personally, we always try to shop small as well to support other small businesses. There are a lot of different ways that we financially and personally support our community.”
Calvetta said consumers shouldn’t forget about the local guys during the shopping season.
“I think they’re going to find that not only do we have the service and personal touch, there is a perception that you pay more with a smaller company,” he said. “But, with a bigger company, you’re not really with the level of quality and customer service. With all the big-box stores, small businesses add character to the community.”
Cleveland Consignment Shoppe
Julie Leddy, who co-owns Cleveland Consignment Shoppe in Woodmere with Marnee Anderson, said local businesses represent the community.
“They’re an important part of the community fabric because they represent who lives in the community,” Leddy said. “Everyone who works here lives within 20 minutes of the shop. People know each other and you can make friendships and good connections when it’s one-on-one with people of the same community.”
With smaller boutiques like the Cleveland Consignment Shoppe, Leddy said they deal with two types of customers, both consigners and a regular customer base.
“We are small, and it’s a small boutique feel that people relish and look for in this world of big-box stores,” she said.
But why small businesses during the holiday shopping season? Leddy said it’s because people want new experiences.
“More and more people are looking for unique shopping settings and that’s what small businesses have,” she said. “To find one-of-a-kind items, that’s where you want to go.”
Cuts n Curls
Lindsey Terry, owner of Cuts n Curls in Solon, said shopping small gives local business owners the opportunity to grow and bring people into the community.
“Small businesses bring new people into the community and expose the community to people who don’t usually come here,” she explained. “From our view, we bring all kinds of new people into Solon. Customers usually wander around the area. So, it’s good exposure for the community.”
Additionally, while exposing new customers to the Solon area, Terry said other small businesses get a boost, too.
“We’re bringing people outside of Solon into the community and they’re shopping at other small businesses in the area. It’s bringing exposure to more businesses. It sheds light on the area and brings up the city’s overall income.”
Terry said she also shops local.
“I believe you need to support the small businesses as they do a lot in the community,” she noted. “Some of these biggest stores that you see in every city, people aren’t specifically driving to the area for those stores. Small businesses are unique – they’re not something you see in every city.”
As for Knuth’s in Pepper Pike, owner John Bryan said small businesses impact communities in a “myriad of ways.”
“Small businesses are typically local, so more money spent there stays in the community,” he said. “Communities realize almost no tax dollars from internet purchases. Small businesses also provide unique and one-of-a-kind product, and product assortments as opposed to the one-size-fits-all mentality of the big-box stores.”
Aside from keeping money local, Bryan said local businesses also mean jobs.
“Small businesses are also the ones supporting local schools, synagogues and churches with monetary or in-kind donations. Go ask Amazon for a gift card for your child’s after-prom or your cancer fundraiser.”
Supporting a local business means you’re supporting your neighbors, Bryan added.
“Their children go to school with yours, they eat at the same restaurants and shop in the same stores as you do,” he said. “They support local attorneys, accountants, physicians, plumbers, home builders, dry cleaners and mechanics, and the list goes on. Small businesses need the support of their neighbors.”
Mar Lou Shoes
Dan Ungar, owner of Mar Lou Shoes in Lyndhurst, said small businesses are important for many reasons.
“One, people from the immediate local communities are gainfully employed,” he said. “Two, the very foundation of a local business is the culture it brings to its customers and employees, not to mention the aesthetic aspect which, in many cases, are attractive shops and buildings.”
Focusing on the employment aspect, Ungar said “one of the greatest gifts one person can do for another is to provide employment.”
“Small businesses, in my case retail, bring people out of their homes and to their stores and other stores,” he explained. “Employees shop and eat nearby. While this is true for large businesses, it seems that the culture of shopping small and local rings truer for employees of small businesses.”
Shopping at small businesses during the holiday season guarantees the money stays in the community, Ungar said.
“Shopping online for something you can get locally, whether or not it is from a big-box store, is contradictory to keeping the dollars here,” he said.
Robert & Gabriel Jewelers
Ann Swope, administrative assistant at Robert & Gabriel Jewelers, said being in business in the Lyndhurst community for 38 years has allowed the jewelry store to keep purchases local, off the internet and out of big box retailers.
"We also provide local employment through the hiring of our staff and contractors," she explained. "We add a personal touch to the shopping experience by providing knowledge of product and services in a pleasant, friendly atmosphere and we personally reach out to all of our customers."
Swope said employees at the jewelry store also go out of their way to get to know customers' interests and needs to customize offerings, further allowing them to provide a personalized experience.
"Few big businesses provide additional services to supplement their sales," she said. "We do this by providing repairs, appraisals and customizing."
When big box stores come to a community, Swope said small businesses feel the effects. So, it's important for citizens to still patronize these locally owned shops.
"Unfortunately, many times when large big box chain stores come into a neighborhood, it becomes the demise of local, small businesses," she said. "Then, when the large store leaves, the community is faced with empty buildings, reduced revenue, no services and huge unemployment. We are happy to be an integral part of our community."
For Sheraton Furniture in Willoughby, owner Larry Weisman said people walk through the door in all types of situations. The support of the community allows him and his team to be able to meet anyone’s needs, he said.
“It’s not all furniture purchases, it’s supporting the community’s needs,” he stated. “We’re paying taxes in the community. We’re operating on a very small, intimate basis, so we’re also employing, paying real estate taxes and we’re involved in the community. It’s a relationship.”
In business for 59 years, Weisman said the entire time he’s also promoted the area he does business in.
“Our commercials show stores, restaurants and the entire north corridor, so we’re promoting everyone,” he said. “We’re happy to just promote the community. Willoughby wasn’t always the hot spot, but now it’s moving forward and we’re part of that amazing growth.”
When supporting small businesses during the holiday season, Weisman said customers are investing in their community.
“When you come to the store, you’re paying for our community,” he said. “They’re not just buying furniture, it’s investing in the community and neighborhood fabric. It’s not just selling sofas.”
Jim Macmillian, owner of The Shredeasy in Solon, said it’s well-documented that small businesses are “the engine room of the economy.”
“I enjoy being part of that whole circus,” he said. “But, I think people that start a business are either passionate about what they do or they have a lot of experience. Either way, that brings a lot of value. You could be a shoe cobbler, pastry chef – or whatever you do, if you bring a specialized skill into the community, that helps enrich it.”
Though small businesses provide employment, Macmillian pointed out its not unique to small business. What is unique is a small business’ willingness to give back.
“When people are part of a community, they are more willing to contribute back,” he said. “You can give back in meaningful ways, like attending events and doing sponsorships. And you’re dealing with local people, so they care about what they do a little more.”
Supporting a small business is simply reciprocal, Macmillan stated.
“You want to live in a town and be proud of that town,” he said. “You want to be able to go somewhere within that town for what you need. People just enjoy spending their money locally.”
Tricia Scott, owner of Visit Mickey, a travel agency that does a majority of its business in Mentor, also said the biggest role small businesses play is bringing money to the community.
“When we’re dealing with big travel conglomerates, there is no person backing you up,” she said. “I, for one, have a special needs daughter. So, my money goes towards therapy. I have a therapist on Chagrin Boulevard, and while I’m there, I go to dinner. When you give money to a local business, the money goes back. The other part is building relationships.”
Scott said many local businesses are invested in charity work.
“That’s another part of having the local draw,” she said. “You don’t just support by buying product or services, but also through volunteerism.”
For Small Business Saturday, Scott had a simple motto.
“If you can get the same thing through a small business and a big conglomerate, choose the small business,” she said. “You’re helping pay for their needs and life.”
Willows and Sage Flowers & Events
Anna Bolman, owner of Willows and Sage Flowers & Events in Beachwood, said small businesses help communities thrive.
“Think local, eat local and buy local, it’s all about keeping your money and talent in the community you live in and working together to make success possible for all,” she said. “When people call my small business, they’re talking directly to the owner and as a florist and event planner, we can make anything work for them from their initial phone call.”
Bolman said she also works to put her money right back into the community.
“When I need to, I put my money right back into businesses and talent, as do many other small businesses. Supporting each other’s success is something I love about small-town business owners.”
When the public supports small businesses, Bolman said they’re supporting someone’s dreams.
“Supporting small businesses means you’re supporting the entrepreneurial dreams, talents and hard work of the people who live right in your community,” she explained. “The spirit itself builds strong communities and brings jobs right into our local areas.”