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Westmoreland

Small Business Saturday is 'making folks aware that small towns matter'

Patrick Varine
| Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, 4:36 a.m.

For Murrysville jeweler Frank Weiss, every Saturday is Small Business Saturday.

“I do try to promote it and bring interest to that day,” said Weiss, owner at Golden Creations on William Penn Highway. “I don’t necessarily see a big jump in business, but it’s a noble thing they’re doing.”

Allegory Gallery owner William Jones said the annual nationwide promotion of small businesses by American Express on the day after Black Friday has paid big dividends.

“Last year, we saw almost a tenfold jump in business on one day over the prior year,” Jones said. “And the previous year was up already.”

Jones has been on board with Small Business Saturday since its inception in 2010.

“We were one of the first in (Ligonier) to do it,” Jones said. “Every year, we contact Amex to get all the supplies, and we’ll spread them out to stores that haven’t gotten them yet.”

That includes Jones’ neighbors at Scamps Toffee , where owner Amy Hepler said she and her employees love being part of Small Business Saturday.

“It’s an awareness, and it’s making folks aware that small towns matter,” she said. “You hear it in peoples’ voices. They’ll say it’s easy to order something online, but there’s something about going out into the community. People always talk about how cute Ligonier is, and they’ll actually come here to shop just for that experience.”

Beginning last year, Hepler said she saw a noticeable bump in the bottom line on Small Business Saturday.

“We’ll be hanging out our banners and mats,” she said. “We really like to be part of that.”

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the 28.8 million small businesses across the country account for 99.7 percent of all businesses in the United States.

Shelby Barrett, who opened Bare It Boutique women’s clothing store in Murrysville three years ago, said she sees a jump in business on Small Business Saturday, and she sees it as her mission to support her peers.

“I go to Ferri’s (nearby) to pick things up if I can, and I try to support other local businesses,” Barrett said. “It’s become really important to me now.”

Elaine Schweikarth, owner of the Olive Merchant in Murrysville, said she has customers mention they’re buying specifically because they heard about the promotion.

“One of my employees’ daughter-in-law was the first person here last year, and said she was going to as many places as she could,” Schweikarth said. “She owns a small business as well.”

Jones said local businesses supporting one another is an important part of stimulating the local economy.

“Being part of the community, we believe the rising tide raises all boats, and we try to really help our local merchants,” he said.

And when folks are out shopping, they tend to get hungry, which means local eateries can often see increased business from Small Business Saturday.

Sweet Buzz Bean & Bistro in Harrison City is running specials Saturday and Sunday.

“We don’t get overwhelmed (on Small Business Saturday), but it comes at a nice steady pace,” said employee Dawn Pinaroc, who has worked at the coffee shop for four years. “A lot of the small businesses here try to support each other.”

Weiss and Hepler said customers appreciate the level of service they’re able to get when they can have an in-person conversation with a shop owner.

“We’re not Amazon, and there’s something about coming into shops, meeting people and talking to business owners,” Hepler said.

For more, visit SmallBusinessSaturday.com .

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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