MASSENA - Hidden on the calendar between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is another shopping holiday that you may not be quite as familiar with - Small Business Saturday.
In only its third year, Small Business Saturday is a nationwide movement aimed at promoting locally-owned small businesses, a segment of the nations economy that is often overlooked during the holiday shopping season.
According to information provided by a participating business, Small Business Saturday started in 2010 as an American Express promotion that offered its customers $25 credits for shopping at participating small businesses. That promotion has since grown to the point where last year 103 million shoppers supported Small Business Satruday and a Facebook page of the same name has nearly 3 million likes.
While many of the small business owners we spoke with had not heard of the promotion, one of them, John D. Ashley, of Triple A Lumber in Massena said his store and the other two Triple A Lumber stores in Canton and Potsdam are embracing the idea and actively promoting it.
For me small businesses are important because in my opinion small businesses are the backbone of the United States, he said. When you spend your money at a locally and at a small business a lot more of it stays local and is recycles in the community.
To celebrate Small Business Saturday, Mr. Ashley said each of the Triple A Lumber stores will be holding an open house with prize drawings and free refreshments. Among the prizes up for grabs is a $50 gift card, which will be awarded at each store. One lucky winner, will even be headed to the 2013 Daytona 500 with three of their friends.
Each of the stores will be doing something different, he said, adding his location has teamed up with the Kiwanis Club to offer free birdhouse building for children stopping by that day. The Massena location will also be holding a 50/50 drawing to benefit Habitat for Humanity.
We really want to focus peoples attention on small businesses, he said, adding that all throughout the holiday shopping season, Triple A Lumber is even accepting competitors gift cards.
If you have a gift card for Lowes or Home Depot come on in, he said.
Jackie J. Sheehan, who with her husband Phil, owns and operates, Phil & Jackies, a gift shop and screen printing center on Main Street in Massena said she hadnt heard of the promotion, but agreed that supporting small businesses is important for the entire community.
When you support small businesses, she said, youre also indirectly helping to support charities and non-for-profits in the area, as well.
A lot of it is to support the communitys charitable causes, she said. Local businesses contribute to almost every organization.
But thats not all, shopping at local businesses gives you a customer experience that she said you wont find at big box stores.
Its a personal connection knowing who you are dealing with and the fact that they are the ones standing behind their products.
Chris J. Smutz, co-owner of Northern Music & Video, Potsdam, agreed.
Thats usually where people are going to get the best sales and service in our opinion.
Mr. Smutz said while his store is open on Black Friday and all throughout the holiday shopping season, Black Friday for a small business is a little bit different.
Our Black Friday isnt like the big boxes, but we usually do see more traffic during the day.
Thomas H. Bronson owns and operates The Cornerstore, a sports novelty shop, that also sells toys, games and apparel, in Potsdam with his daughter Alison.
Last year they got their first taste of Black Friday and indirectly, although they didnt even know it, Small Business Saturday.
I know from being in business last year, Black Friday was kind of a bust in Potsdam, because people all go to the big boxes or the mall, but we did have a really good Saturday.
Mr. Bronson also noted small businesses arent only competing with big box stores, but also the internet.
Our prices are reasonable, as good as youll find on the internet. You dont pay shipping. You dont pay handling and its all hands-on. You get to see what you buy, before you actually buy it.
Jeramy P. Peets, who is one of the co-owners of Peets Jewelers in Massena said hes never heard of Small Business Saturday, but thinks its a great thing.
Its a great idea, he said, Like that ad on the radio says, The people that run the stores are your friends and neighbors and the people they employ are your friends and neighbors.
Whats more, Mr. Peets said the people who own and operate small businesses have the best interests of their customers in mind and not just the bottom line.
We are looking out for you, he said. Our customers are our friends and neighbors.
Laurel Lee Roethel, of Ogdensburg owns and operates River Rat Design, a custom embroidery shop in Ogdensburg.
Small businesses might not have the latest electronic gadgets, but if youre looking for specific items, small businesses can deliver those, she said.
Derek P. Bradley owns Northwoods Furniture on Ford Street in Ogdensburg.
He said he can understand why people shop at big box stores, but thinks its unfortunate that small businesses are overlooked.
I dont think theyre (small businesses) appreciated as much as they used to be, he said. With the economy the way it is, people are trying to save money.
Rick J. Griffith is a co-owner of Cobblestone Gifts, also on Ford Street in Ogdensburg and he said local people supporting local businesses is what keeps them and other small businesses afloat.
Its really important to support small businesses especially for local people, he said. We couldnt afford to stay in business without local people. People figure they have to go to big cities to do their shopping, but you can find many great, unique items local. Were always glad to be able to provide this service, and we appreciate any support we can get.
Amanda Purcell and Brian Kidwell contributed to this report.