2017-11-23 / Front Page

Special day for shopping local

Villages plan local sales events
By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff

Will Case, owner of Case-Daniels Jewelers in Suttons Bay, had already seen four customers by early Tuesday morning, none of whom purchased a piece of jewelry.

Two brought in candelabras from local churches for him to repair, another borrowed a necklace she is thinking about buying, and still another was seeking advice.

That service, Case said, is the strength of local small businesses.

“People have needs and they have questions that are not being answered by franchises or big chain stores,” Case said.

This weekend shoppers will hit the malls to take advantage of Black Friday sales, but local business owners are hoping those shoppers stay closer to home to attend community-wide sales at locally owned stores.

And one day has been set aside nationally for local shopping — Small Business Saturday. In general, shops in Leelanau will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Small Business Saturday is something that I look forward to every year,” said Matt Gregory, president of the Leelanau Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. “It makes the consumer think about where they’re going to spend their dollars.”

The relatively new shopping day, which first took place in the United States in 2010, encourages holiday shoppers to patronize small, local brick and mortar stores.

The day is sandwiched between Black Friday, which typically features sales by big box stores, and Cyber Monday, during which online stores hold sales.

“This time of year people are so focused on Black Friday and going to the big box stores and doing the crazy sales,” said Gregory, who owns Chateau de Leelanau in Suttons Bay.

It’s a time when local businesses get forgotten, he said.

Studies have shown that buying local keeps more money circulating in the local economy, with local businesses returning about 52 percent of their revenue to the local economy, compared to about 14 percent by national chain stores.

“The proportion of every dollar that stays in the community is far, far higher than if you go to one of the big box stores where a large portion of the money goes to the company,” said Paul Skinner, president of the Empire Chamber of Commerce.

“So you’re greatly contributing to your community on a whole and helping out your neighbors.”

But the end result of supporting local businesses is far more than just economic, said Skinner, who owns The Misers’ Hoard in Empire.

“If the goal is a vibrant local community, one of the things that is essential to maintaining that is a thriving commercial sector,” Skinner said.

There is another benefit to shopping local, said Stacy Sheren, the women’s buyer for Bahle’s of Suttons Bay.

“Shopping local also keeps jobs in the area and in the community,” Sheren said. “So it’s always important to keep your money local to help the community.”

And the store tries to practice what it preaches, by shopping at local grocery stores and by using local contractors for an upcoming facelift to the store.

“We try to spend our dollars as local as possible,” Sheren said.

She also realizes that small businesses have a responsibility to its local customers.

“We should be aware that there’s different clientele throughout the year,” she said. “It’s important to have something for everyone.”

Small businesses must also compete with larger companies that sell their products online. Skinner is in the process of creating an online storefront for his unique gifts and interior decor that he hopes will target those cyber shoppers.

An online presence is especially important when a store’s clients are only in the area a few weeks of the year, Skinner said, a situation that many business owners in Leelanau face.

Gregory said a personal shopping experience is so much better.

“Why not help your friends and neighbors first, before you go on that computer and have something delivered from who knows where,” Gregory said.

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