Downtown Springfield businesses talk about importance of Small Business Saturday

Published: Nov. 25, 2022 at 6:43 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - While Black Friday has now become a well-known national institution, another unofficial holiday that follows the next day is still trying to reach that same level of recognition.

The purpose of Small Business Saturday is to promote shopping at locally-owned retailers to help the area’s economy and show loyalty to those in your community who are trying to compete against corporate giants.

And in many cases, it’s crucial to their survival.

“It’s very important because most of our retailers will make 40-50 percent of their annual sales during the holiday season,” said Downtown Springfield Association Executive Director Rusty Worley. “So it can really make a difference in how those businesses do throughout the entire year.”

While shopping malls and major store outlets all across the country were crawling with big crowds on Black Friday, Worley was pleased to see something downtown that he said was not common on Black Friday as a block-long line of young people were lined up outside Springy Jeans on Walnut Street waiting for the doors to open. Some had been there for six hours.

“We tend to have stronger Small Business Saturdays than Black Fridays because a lot of folks focus on the big box stores on Friday and turn their attention to small retailers on Saturday,” he pointed out.

Springy Jeans started with pop-up stores and online merchandising five years ago in Springfield. And although the owners have since moved their operations to Los Angeles, they opened a permanent store in downtown Springfield.

“It’s in our name,” explained General Manager Grant Richter. “We’re ‘Springy’ Jeans. This is where our roots are.”

And where their success started. A steady stream of young customers kept coming on Black Friday and like other businesses that survived the pandemic, Richter said that having a presence on social media to attract and interact with customers is essential now.

“It’s everything,” he said. “It’s how we’ve grown the audience that we’re so fortunate to have. And without it we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are today.”

On both its Instagram and Facebook platforms the Downtown Springfield Association will be connecting with Small Business Saturday patrons by posting specials, giveaways and other things being offered by participating retailers. Patrons can get “I shopped small” stickers at those participating businesses and if they make any social media postings with the sticker, they can stop by the Downtown Green House Coffee + Affogato Bar to get special prizes like candy, gift cards, and T-shirts.

Other downtown businesses are also hoping their local ties will result in customer interest. Just down the street from Springy Jeans is J.L. Long Traders, which is not only locally-owned, but selling local products.

“We have a lot of consignment in our stores,” said J.L. Long Traders Co-owner Kelle Rathe. “We have artists who bring in pottery, sewing and different items they’ve made. So this a time of year that we can really get people in here to shop and buy some of these local creations. The holidays are really an important time of year for us.”

“When you support local businesses you’re putting money directly back into your community, not only with tax dollars but those local owners are reinvesting back into the local economy themselves,” added Brina Thomas, who owns Five Pound Apparel.

Her store also gives back to the community in a rather unique way.

“We donate five pounds of food to the Ozarks Food Harvest for every item purchased that’s our brand,” Thomas pointed out. “And we carry other brands that give back to organizations locally and globally.”

Small Business Saturday is a national movement and last year set a record by producing over $23 billion in revenue.

“Last year we were coming out of COVID and with the stimulus and other funds people were more liquid than they had been in a long time,” Worley explained. “This year our sales tax revenues for downtown are up 23 percent over the prior year so we continue to see a good, strong rebound in sales.”

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