Post-Thanksgiving sales were brisk in locally owned stores in downtown Cleveland last weekend as residents joined throngs of other Americans who spent an estimated $19.6 billion during the 10th …
Post-Thanksgiving sales were brisk in locally owned stores in downtown Cleveland last weekend as residents joined throngs of other Americans who spent an estimated $19.6 billion during the 10th annual Small Business Saturday, according to a report released by the American Federation of Business and American Express.
The report estimated that more than $120 million has been spent during Small Business Saturday since 2010.
Joel Henderson, communications director for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, said local independent retailers and restaurants reported sales exceeded forecasts.
Business such as Free2Fly, Terra Running Company and Gardner’s Market were all busy with customers.
“Products were flying off the shelves at Free2Fly,” Henderson said.
In addition to being full with diners, Henderson said Gardner’s Market also reported an increase in sales of gift items such as baked goods.
Henderson said downtown was filled with shoppers looking for unique items and dining options.
“It was hustling and bustling,” he said. “Folks everywhere were carrying shopping bags.”
Shoppers were also greeted by store owners who offered coffee and cookies to patrons.
In addition, many stores were selling one-of-a kind items, such as Christmas ornaments emblazoned with designs unique to the Cleveland area.
Elizabeth Rutledge, chief marketing director at American Express, said Americans “came together on Saturday to prove shopping small really does add up.”
“We are thrilled to report that shoppers are increasingly making a conscious effort to shop small and support their local communities,” she said.
According to the report, 96% of respondents who shopped on Small Business Saturday “agree that shopping at small, independently-owned businesses supports their commitment to making purchases that have a positive social, economic and environmental impact.”
Additionally, 97% of consumers who shopped on Small Business Saturday agreed that small businesses are essential to their community and 95% reported the day makes them want to shop or eat at small, independently-owned businesses all year long, not just during the holiday season.”
Shopping local is more than just a trend.
The Kabbage Small Business Revenue Index is reporting small business across the nation experienced growth during the first half of 2019.
“With small businesses employing around 60 million people and making up 99.9% of U.S firms, this is great news as the year comes to an end,” Kabbage stated.
According to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, “firms with less than 20 people make up 89.0 of all U.S. businesses. So, saying small businesses are the engine of the U.S. economy is not an exaggeration.”
Not only do small businesses “create the bulk of the jobs,” they account for "almost half of the GDP,” Kabbage reported.
The largest state group has states that have more than 580,000 businesses in them, with Tennessee ranking No. 2 in the nation behind Ohio, with 26% growth, according to Kabbage’s Index Value.
“Tennessee came in second with a peak KIV of 202.4 points, but the overall growth was 20%, the report found. The state also “leads the nation in small business job growth.”
From January to September this year, $27 million in sales taxes were generated from local businesses, $2 million more collected during the same time period last year.
Chamber President and CEO Mike Griffin said frequenting locally owned businesses helps fund civic growth.
“The more dollars that are spent locally, that’s more money going into our coffers and that helps fund projects such as downtown redevelopment,” Griffin told the Banner in an article published last month.
Ellie Topinka, of Free2Fly, said the store was busy all day Saturday.
“Customers were buying jewelry and stocking stuffers,” she said.
The store also sold several Christmas ornaments crafted by The Brick Kiln.
One specially made ornament featured the geographical shape of Tennessee, emblazoned with a heart next to “Cleveland.”
The ornament sells for $10. The ornaments are available while supplies last.
Topinka said Saturday saw many new customers visiting the store, many of whom were in town for the holidays.
“We love it when new customers visit our store,” she said.
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