Small Business Saturday sparks festive promotions at independent retailers throughout Greater Cleveland

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Move over Black Friday. Small Business Saturday will be more popular than ever with consumers this year, according to a new survey from Bankrate.com. Created by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday now stands on its own. It’s given rise to special sales promotions at small retailers and in communities of small retailers throughout Northeast Ohio.

Small businesses are getting more attention from shoppers for good reason. Ninety-five percent of those surveyed say that small businesses have at least one advantage over large businesses. More than half say they appreciate the unique gift ideas, 48 ​​percent say they like the better customer service, and 39 percent say they appreciate that small businesses foster a sense of community.

Related: 33 Northeast Ohio holiday markets make it easy to shop local for gifts

To be competitive small businesses are offering broad and varied promotions this year. Collaborative efforts in retail districts or among retailers will also attract shoppers. As the first post-pandemic shopping year, owners seem optimistic about sales.

Here’s just a sample of promotions, activities and expectations from small, local retailers that we talked to.

“We are running our annual Thanksgiving food drive from Nov. 22 to 26,” says Sherri Knuth Bryan, owner of Knuth’s in Pepper Pike and Westlake. “We provide the customer with 15% off their entire purchase with a donation of nonperishable food. We have a terrific response and have so much food to donate each year.”

Post-pandemic Bryan says she is seeing and expecting more in-store/in-person shoppers “having the fun of seeing and touching and trying on items in our stores. We also see more people shopping together, enjoying that experience.

“People are going out and are traveling again, so there is interest in updating their wardrobes as well as buying gifts. We expect sales to be stronger than the last few years,” she says.

Shoppers at The Wine Spot on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights have been positive and more generous.

“I feel like people are really happy this holiday season,” says Adam Fleischer, who co-owns the store with his wife Susan. “We’re seeing more people traveling back to Cleveland to see their families. We feel like we’re back to normal. The past few years, they were still buying, but in smaller amounts for smaller groups. Now they’re having bigger holiday parties. As they’re purchasing, they’re excited to talk about it.”

On Small Business Saturday, The Wine Spot is offering two glasses of sparkling wine paired with handcrafted camembert-style cheese from neighboring retailer Marchant Manor Cheese, for $20.

Meanwhile, all three locations of He Loves Curves – Cleveland, Richmond and Strongsville – are offering 50% off clothing, plus special sales racks. Owner Charkia Campbell wants every woman to feel beautiful, so she carries clothing in sizes from small to 6X.

Sweet Bean on East 185th Street in Cleveland, is holding a special event on Saturday. “We’ll have our holiday preview and take preorders,” says owner/chocolatier Kristin Barnes. “Customers can come in and fill an advent calendar with whatever handmade candies they want for $70. They’ll get free hot cocoa, hang out and maybe even have samples.”

“I’m excited about the holiday,” she says, “and about spending money this year as a consumer. I’m hoping everyone is feeling it this year.”

Sweet Bean is also part of an 11-retailer holiday shopping passport created by Ash O’Connor, owner of Made Cleveland. In the old City Buddha space on Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights, Made Cleveland is a multi-vendor marketplace with local handmade gifts and art.

The Shop Local Holiday Passport requires shoppers to get stamps when checking out at participating retailers. Three stamps qualify shoppers for a $100-value prize, six stamps for a $200-value prize and 11 stamps for a $400-value prize. Prizes will be awarded in merchandise and gift cards from different locations.

For Small Business Saturday, Made Cleveland will have a tree-lighting ceremony in-store, giveaways every hour and complimentary hot chocolate.

Related: Coventry Village Holiday Gift Guide

Related: Cleveland Shops independent retailer guide

“This is an important holiday season for small businesses that are still recovering from the pandemic and dealing with other challenges ranging from inflation to supply chain woes, labor shortages and more,” says Ted Rossman, Bankrate.com’s senior industry analyst.

“I get the sense that many small businesses and their customers are optimistic and resilient despite these issues. There’s always a lot of enthusiasm around Small Business Saturday and a strong desire to support local businesses that are important parts of our local communities. As our survey indicates, shoppers also shop locally because of better customer service and to discover unique gift ideas.”

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