Savannah small businesses hope for busy holiday shopping season

Savannah small businesses hope for busy holiday shopping season

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - We're entering the busiest time of year for retailers, with Black Friday kicking off the holiday shopping season this week.

But when a lot of focus tends to be on big-box stores, it leaves some wondering where small businesses fit into the picture.

Some worry that as Black Friday and the holidays become more and more commercialized, it may only squeeze them out further.

"What would Broughton Street be if there was not a single local business there? What would River Street be if it was all national chains," asked Buy Local Savannah Vice President Daniel Pavlin.

The folks at Buy Local Savannah estimate that half of all money spent at small businesses will re-circulate three times in the local economy.

"And that's massive compared to buying from an online retailer, where there's almost no re-circulation," said Pavlin.

The number of locally-owned businesses on Broughton Street has dwindled over the years. Paris Market is just one of a few left.

"Big stores - they seem to be mall stores - and this isn't a mall, it's an outdoor street. We're trying to be charming, and I'm not sure big stores are doing that," said Paris Market Sales Associate Jinx Hudgins.

Hudgins said the Broughton Street mainstay is especially popular with out-of-town shoppers because they're looking for things that are uniquely Savannah.

"These new corporations are coming, and we know the brands, but I think people also know they can get that anywhere else. They come to Savannah and there's no other Paris Market in the world," said Hudgins.

Small Business Saturday has become a nationwide push in the last five years to encourage you to support local retailers the day after Black Friday.

American Express estimates shoppers spent more than $14 billion at independent business on the day last year.

Although he hasn't seen a big difference from that campaign, the owner of Savannah Coffee Roasters said a dollar spent at a local business any day of the year is a dollar back to your neighborhood.

"Your local businesses are generally local people who try to get a start in life, who have an idea they want to bring to fruition. And in doing so, they end up employing other local people and contributing directly back to the community," said Savannah Coffee Roasters owner John Collins.

And while Black Friday is still bigger than its Saturday counterpart, it seems it's now being eclipsed by Cyber Monday. More than $2.5 billion was spent on Cyber Monday last year, that's quadrupled in the past 10 years.

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