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Small Business Saturday promotes inner-city growth
small biz sat 3
Downtown shops like Farm House, where Sioux Falcone shops for holiday gifts, expect a large number of shoppers to browse their stores on Small Business Saturday. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal

Big box department stores reap the benefits of Black Friday annually, but Turlock residents hit the aisles and racks of local stores just as eagerly the following day for Small Business Saturday — a day to celebrate and support locally-owned and operated businesses.


“The fact that there’s this movement over the traditional Black Friday weekend gives small businesses an opportunity to shine,” said Emporium owner Dana McGarry. “Every day in retail is important for my business, but it gives us an opportunity to be exposed to new customers who might not have been in the store before, and an opportunity for us to thank our customers for their loyalty and patronage by shopping small on Saturday.”


Small Business Saturday was first observed in 2010 as a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which features big box retail and e-commerce stores. In contrast, Small Business Saturday encourages shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local.


“The dollars that come into this shop really are sprinkled throughout our community,” said McGarry. “I keep my money local, so as a shopkeeper it’s important for my customers to know that when they are shopping here, I’m using their dollars to support my household and donate to nonprofits.”


According to McGarry, who has been a downtown Turlock shop owner for four years, Main Street sees an abundance of foot traffic on Small Business Saturday, and it has only gotten better as the years go on.


“There does tend to be more shoppers on that day,” said McGarry. “We’re at an advantage as far as small downtowns go because we have zero vacancy and we’ve become a destination for boutique shopping and good eats.”


While there are countless places to support locally in downtown Turlock, other small businesses around town are hoping that Small Business Saturday helps bring more shoppers through their doors. Michele Boston, manager at Pet Avenue, said that the shop relies on the holiday season heavily.


“Our sales definitely pick up during the holidays,” she said, noting that puppies and kittens are a popular Christmas present. “We depend on that boost in sales to get us through the slower times of the year.”


To both attract customers and show gratitude to them on Small Business Saturday, Pet Avenue will be offering a variety of sales, including $100 off any puppy. Though, the importance of shopping local extends beyond just one day.

“I think it’s crucial to support the people that live in this community,” said Boston. “We live here, we work here, we put our money back into the community and that helps to rebuild the city. I think that’s the most important thing.”

Just a couple doors down from Pet Avenue is Boucher’s Comfort Shoes, where owner Ernestine Boucher has a loyal clientele. Small Business Saturday is just another day for her store, she said, but only because the Turlock community is already so great at supporting Boucher’s.

“For us it’s every day,” said Boucher. “It doesn’t just have to be that Saturday — we have good customers that are wonderful all the time.”

The store does see a boost in sales over the holidays, however, thanks to gift certificate sales. Shopping for gifts locally is more beneficial for customers, Boucher said.

“At a small store like ours, you get more personalized service and we take care of our customers,” she said. “Sometimes you go to big stores and can’t find anyone that works there, and we’re always here and eager to help.”

McGarry expects this year’s Small Business Saturday to be one of downtown Turlock’s biggest yet.

“I think because we’ve seen more restaurants and more retail shops open, we’re going to see a much bigger increase on our foot traffic and sales on Saturday.”