By Tyler Coley
Sandwiched between “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” is a shopping day still new to the mix, “Small Business Saturday.” The event was started by American Express in 2010 as a public relations campaign to get people motivated to shop locally and to use their American Express card. Nowadays, what started out as a campaign for their bank has turned into a national day of local shopping.
Like many trends that happen nationally “Small Business Saturday” is still catching on in Humboldt. In Eureka small business shopping centers like Henderson and Old Town, while not partaking in large numbers, did have some businesses and consumers who were in on the day of shopping small.
One of these businesses is the Toy Box in Henderson Center, a locally owned toy store that started in 1978 as a hobby shop. Owner Michelle Knight has been in charge of the store since the early ‘90s. The sign outside the store showed the deal of the day for Small Business Saturday.
The deal the sign featured was, “No sales tax on all purchases.”
“2012 was the first year we were aware of it, as well as our customers,” Knight said. “Seems to be making a slight difference in sales this year but not much. We like to change it up all the time when giving out deals; we cater to what makes people happy.”
With big stores that carry toys like Target and Wal-Mart close by, the Toy Box still has it niche in town.
“Since we are smaller we rely on specialty materials, not main stream things you see on T.V.,” Knight said. “We’re holding on. Around here, people still support local business.”
At Fin N Feather pet shop assistant manager Mike Masterson gave his opinion on the shopping day.
“For us it’s just another day, we do our big sale in October and coast the rest of the year,” Masterson said. “I think it’s a good idea within reason, as long as it doesn’t make any small business become a big box store.”
On the other side of Eureka in Old Town a few shops displayed the “Shop Small” icon in their windows but participation seemed low though there were a number of people browsing the shops. One of these browsers was Forest Laven a local auto mechanic who lives in Old Town. He shared his opinions on the day while he made his way to a vintage clothing store where his girlfriend works.
“Just got my coffee and bagels from Los Bagels, regarding Black Friday I didn’t participate,” Laven said. “Tried going to Sears yesterday to pick up some gear but couldn’t get in cause of the craziness, actually did end up getting what I needed at a local shop.”
“It’s a great idea, stimulates the local economy,” Laven said. “Small business all the way!”
Not too far away a street vender by the name of Joanne Snyder was selling her assortments of jewelry and knickknacks by the gazebo.
“People are going to go where they can afford to buy something, that is not here,” Snyder said. “Though people should try if they can.”
Both Knight and Snyder recognize the change that has happened over the years.
“Toy stores in the big cities haven’t been making it, people don’t feel as much need for personal attention,” Knight said.
“It’s over for the small business,” Snyder says. “Personally the corporations have won.”