Local stores reap benefits of Small Business Saturday

(Julianne Lima/WPRI)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Black Friday usually sends shoppers to chain stores in droves, but smaller businesses got a shot in the arm on Small Business Saturday.

The day was named seven years ago by American Express in an attempt to help out small businesses during the recession. By now, all 50 states participate, hoping to draw shoppers to locally-owned businesses.

Emily Brownell of Henry Bear’s Park on Hope Street in Providence said small businesses offer a personal touch shoppers won’t find at a chain store.

“It’s a different feel,” she said. “You can go to any of those big box stores or frankly go online and find something that you knew you needed, but here you may find something you never know you could ever find. Something unique, something different.”

The toy store has operated for 11 years and has become a part of the community, she said.

“There’s money to go around,” said Jan Faust Dane, owner of Stock Culinary Goods, “and if we support each other it just works to everybody’s benefit.”

Her store is celebrating five years in business.

Proponents of Small Business Saturday in Rhode Island said that if shoppers shifted 10% of their spending from chains to local stores, some $373 million would be put back into the state’s economy.

Nationally, American Express reported that small business owners generated about $15.5 billion on Small Business Saturday last year.