Small Business Saturday shoppers expected in droves

Sometime today, squeezed between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Cartersville store owners say they expect to see crowds of shoppers invade the downtown shopping district.

Small Business Saturday, a promotion dreamed up by American Express in 2010 to promote small, locally owned businesses, has become a welcome alternative to the sometimes unruly crowds pushing into the big-box retailers the day after Thanksgiving.

Garrett Womack, manager of Blue Sky Outfitters, said it just seems to get better every year.

“We will be slammed Saturday,” he said. “It’s easily one of our busiest days of the year. We will be slammed all day. Each year, so far, has been better than the year before. The DDA is doing such a great job.”

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday promise major discounts from the big-box retailers, Small Business Saturday takes a different approach. Most shops aren’t able to offer discounts, so they offer the shopping experience — unhurried browsing through high quality items, refreshments and, in some cases, in-store events.

Jim Ballew, owner of the Olive Branch Boutique, 18 S. Wall St., a gift shop that opened a year ago, is counting on Saturday as an opportunity to reach out to discriminating shoppers.

“Last year, we had just opened and although we saw noticeably bigger crowds, I don’t think we benefitted that much from it,” he said. “I think it will be a lot better this year. We have used social media, mainly Facebook and an email campaign to let people know what we can offer them in the way of unique gifts.”

By 10 a.m. Friday, Cohutta Fishing Company on the Public Square, was jammed with shoppers. Beverages and snacks were being served in the back of the store just out of reach of customers flexing willowy fly rods.

“I decided to get a head start and offer Black Friday deals along with Small Business Saturday,” owner Andy Bowen said. “From 7 a.m. till noon, we offered a 25 percent discount on everything in the store. We had a really good turnout and I hope there will be even more customers coming in [today].”

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