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Economy & Business

Small Retailers Hope Shoppers Turn Out for Small Business Saturday

LaToya Dennis

The biggest shopping surge of the year is approaching. Customers line up outside big box stores such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart for the deals they offer on Black Friday – or perhaps this year, on Black Thanksgiving evening. Many retailers depend on the holiday rush to turn a profit for the year, including the little guys. Some now call the day following Black Friday - Small Business Saturday. But small players can face an additional challenge - marketing.

Lizzie Weasler has high hopes for the holiday season.

“Oh it’s extremely important,” Weasler says.

Weasler owns a company she calls Lizzibeth. It sells clothing and accessories online. To spread the word, she’s set up a display at a fair in downtown Milwaukee.

Weasler wants more people to know about her company before Small Business Saturday arrives. And once they do, Lizzibeth must offer deals.

“I’m going to have 20 percent off the entire website so shop, shop, shop. And then you’ll also get a cute little free hair tie whenever you buy something,” Weasler says.

Weasler has also been hosting parties at people’s homes to become better known.

Unlike big box stores, many small retailers don’t have the dollars for advertising-- so they have to find other ways to market their products, according to Patrician Norins. She’s spokesperson for Small Business Saturday.

“E-mail their customer base to let them know they’re participating in the day, post their participation on social media sites, post it on their website and really help to get the word out that they’re participating to existing customers,” Norins says.

Norins says last year, shoppers spent $5.5 billion at small retailers. She expects the number to be higher this year because word has gotten out, plus, the economy has inched upward.

Jack Mozloom says small businesses need shopper dollars. He works for the National Federation of Independent Business. He says despite the fact the stock market has reached new heights this year, small retailers have generally lagged the others.

“Small business owners are generally much more dependent on whether their customers locally feel confident enough to spend money,” Mozloom says.

Still, Mozloom says he’s hopeful the positive stock market gains will boost consumer confidence in local shopping circles.

Back in downtown Milwaukee, the owner of Lizzibeth says she feels a better vibe about her clothing and accessories.

“People have a reason to shop. They’re excited to buy things for other people for the holidays and dress up and just use the pieces to adjust their wardrobe that they already have and just add a little extra glitz to it,” Weasler says.

Lizzie Weasler says she’s been working seven days a week since October.

A profitable Small Business Saturday would help keep the wheels spinning.