'Small Business Saturday' campaign urges people to shop small

Published: Nov. 26, 2011 at 9:10 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 27, 2011 at 2:28 PM HST
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BookEnds' Pat Banning
BookEnds' Pat Banning
Sylvia Morris
Sylvia Morris
Bead It owner Jill Barry
Bead It owner Jill Barry

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

KAILUA, Oahu (HawaiiNewsNow) - A national campaign is pushing consumers to shop small this holiday season.

The second annual "Small Business Saturday" was marked by several merchants around Hawaii. It's meant to boost support for small businesses, which according to the trade group Smart Business Hawaii, make up 98 percent of the 30,000 or so businesses in the state.

One of those small businesses is BookEnds, which has sold new and used books in Kailua for years. Its owner was aware of the campaign, which is being spearheaded by American Express.

"I toyed with the idea of putting up signs, and I thought the television campaign was very effective, and so i didn't do it, thinking, well, we'll let them show us," said BookEnds' Pat Banning. "And actually, business today has been, so far, really very very good."

Small Business Saturday comes a day after images of shoppers lining up for Black Friday bargains at so-called "big box" stores.

"The value of the big box places are the values they offer," Banning said, "and we small guys just have to find a way to offer bargains and that element of personal service. When you call us, we answer the phone. You don't get, 'press one for' you know -- that kind of thing."

Nearby at Bead It, a crafts store, there's been steady business for customers like Sylvia Morris. "I come here a lot because I make jewelry, and they provide me with what I need," she said.

Morris said she shops a mix of big stores and small ones, depending on what she needs.

"It's a mixed thing, because there's things in department stores that I like to buy," Morris said. "You know, I usually go to clothing stores, like Macy's and places like that."

But for Morris and other shoppers, places like Bead It fill a need that big box stores can't fill.

"People that live here definitely tend to be loyal. At least that's what we've found in our business, even though they can go on line, or go to big box stores," said Bead It owner Jill Barry. "We just kind of fill a niche, and it's been good for us."

Sam Slom of Smart Business Hawaii said the campaign is a good idea, even if it had the potential to get lost between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when people return to work after the four-day Thanksgiving weekend and shop online. Slom also said that two out of three new jobs are created by small businesses.

Meantime, businesses like Bead It are happy for the attention the Small Business Saturday campaign can bring.

"Mom and Pop businesses don't have as much to spend on advertising, so getting that kind of exposure really helps us a lot," said Barry.

Related link: Small Business Saturday on Facebook

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