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Small Business Saturday urges shopping local

| Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Brad Pedersen/LEADER TIMES Main Street Market employees, (from left), Elizabeth Wilson, Danielle Prugh and owner Debbie Kreutzer plan to host a Small Business Saturday event at the store, located at 701 West Main St., Rural Valley. Small Business Saturday, which falls the Saturday after Thanksgiving, encourages consumers to shop locally.

The Main Street Market, like many other small businesses, is hoping for a big day on Saturday.

The store owners, Rural Valley residents Debbie and Bill Kreutzer, plan to offer prizes, free snacks, drinks and $5 in Main Street Market Bucks for every $40 spent, in observation of Small Business Saturday.

“Small businesses are becoming rare, so we're taking part in Small Business Saturday in hopes of encouraging people to shop in small businesses, which is important to small towns,” Debbie said. “We try to promote what we have — a little bit of everything, right in our neighborhood — and it's nice to see people come out and support us.”

Small Business Saturday, sponsored by American Express, began on Nov. 27, 2010, as a way to drive consumers to small and local businesses on the day after Black Friday, which is one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

The annual day for shopping at small businesses falls on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving.

The growing emphasis on shopping local might be working, retail and marketing experts say.

Last year, 50 communities organized events leading up to and on Small Business Saturday, said Scott Krugman, spokesman for American Express. This year, 1,500 communities will do so, he said.

This year, 66 percent of shoppers plan to shop locally at small or independent businesses, and they plan to spend an average 34 percent of their holiday budgets in local stores, according to a national survey of 5,018 people that New York-based Deloitte LLP released this month.

The Senate officially recognized Small Business Saturday in a resolution in 2011. Last year, the American Express estimated consumers spent $5.5 billion at small businesses on Small Business Saturday, according to its website.

Turney Luke, owner of the 700 Shop in Kittanning, said his store has seen an increase in business each year on Small Business Saturday. He said it's important for the community to support local businesses not only on Small Business Saturday, but all year long.

“There are a lot of people who do come support us on Small Business Saturday,” Luke said. “We wish more people would come out to support us, but we're very thankful for the ones who already do.”

Luke, whose store has been at 117 Market St., Kittanning, for 31 years, said small businesses have become part of the fabric of small-town living across the country. Along with pumping dollars into the local economy, Luke said he sees different organizations come in asking for his business' support for several causes on a daily basis.

“Being a mom-and-pop shop, we try to donate a lot back to our community,” Luke said. “And that's what we hope our customers will do — support their community first.

“You can't have different businesses and things in the community without shopping locally and supporting them.”

Many small businesses incorporate more social media into their marketing.

Ruffles & Truffles, a children's clothing boutique on Main Street in Butler, nearly closed two years ago because of competition from discounters and the slow economy, said Debbi Ruth, who owns the 17-year-old store.

Business turned around when one of Ruth's customers set up a Facebook page to showcase the store's apparel and accessories.

“Facebook has changed our life because I'm able to target my audience,” she said.

Ruth expects to make a profit this holiday season for the first time in seven years.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

Tory N. Parrish, a staff writer for Trib Total Media, contributed to this report.

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