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Locals encouraged to patronize local merchants on Small Business Saturday

By Sally Voth

Northern Shenandoah Valley businesses hope residents hit their shops for Small Business Saturday as hard as they hit those on Black Friday.

Started a few years ago by American Express, Small Business Saturday is designed to help recession-plagued small businesses, according to an AP report. AmEx customers could get rebates by shopping at a local participating business.

The day-after-Black Friday event has been embraced locally.

"We're going to be open at 9 o'clock tomorrow," Arleen Narron, of Arleen Brown Antiques in Front Royal, said Friday. "A lot of people on [Main] Street are going to be open at 9 [a.m.]"

Normally, Arleen's opens at 11 a.m.

Business was "pretty good" on Friday, too, Narron said.

"Today is the day most people take their relatives around and show them the street," she said. "Today was a pretty good day. I think [Small Business Saturday] is fabulous. I think it's a great idea. There was a pretty good response last year, but there's so much national advertising this year. We're expecting a really busy day. Got my fingers crossed."

Friday's business wasn't so booming for Gina and John Sweatt, who own Ridge Line Designs LLC in Front Royal. She hopes Saturday turns that around.

"We've made one sale today," Mrs. Sweatt said Friday evening. "I hope that it's a success. We certainly shop local and we support every small business that we can, and we hope everybody else will do the same."

The Front Royal Independent Business Alliance has worked hard to promote Small Business Saturday, Sweatt said.

"It just seems like there's been a lot of participation," he said. "It just seems like they worked really hard for this to happen locally."

At Buggy B's in Strasburg, everything -- with the exception of wine and consignments -- is 20 percent off Saturday, manager Barbara Plitt said.

"We actually have our little door mat that says shop small for Small Business Saturday," she said. "Today has been a pretty good day. It could've been better, but I think everybody was at the big box stores. The one thing nice about shopping here is I give individual attention."

Besides getting more personal service, shoppers who patronize local shops help bring more money to the community, Plitt said.

"It shouldn't just be Small Business Saturday," she said. "People should consider their hometown businesses anyway. One thing I have run across in the small businesses that I deal with is we try to help each other out, and that's something you don't find in the bigger businesses."

Woodstock decorative gifts store Three French Hens had a busy Black Friday, owner Sally Spooner said.

"I didn't think we were going to because tomorrow's supposed to be the day, but we have been [busy] and still are, which I'm happy about," she said. "I love [Small Business Saturday]. I think [the] more local the better because we just get eaten up by some of the big stores."

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com


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