Nice weather, deals draw bargain-seekers downtown

Suzanne Cullen, a sales associate at Razzmatazz, 552 Main Street in downtown Grand Junction, sets up a merchandise display in the store during Small Business Saturday. She said the event drew a lot of shoppers this year but perhaps not as many sales as last year.



Business owners along Grand Junction’s Main Street were pleased to have good weather on Saturday.

That’s because it brought out a lot of people who spent at least part of their day observing Small Business Saturday, an event created six years ago to encourage consumers to remember to support small businesses a day after Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year.

For Suzanne Cullen, a sales associate at Razzmatazz, 552 Main St., that meant some brisk business, though not quite as good as last year.

“We’ve had a lot of foot traffic, but not quite the sales that we were hoping for and not quite as good as we did last year,” Cullen said. “It was a beautiful afternoon and we had a lot of window shoppers. On a scale of one to 10 over last year, we’re probably at an eight.”

The store, like many around the Grand Valley, offered special sales to help attract customers, such as 50 percent off on some jewelry and a sale area, something Razzmatazz plans to continue through Christmas.

Small Business Saturday was started as a promotional event by American Express in 2010. Since then, it has become an event promoted by small businesses and groups that represent them as a counter to Black Friday, when numerous big box stores offer sales, and Cyber Monday, an effort to push online sales.

The National Federation of Independent Business says Small Business Saturday has proven to be a boon to mom-and-pop stores that sometimes get ignored during the biggest shopping days of the year.

“Small business represents 99.7 percent of all U.S. employers, and they provide jobs for 58 million Americans,” said Juanita Duggan, NFIB president and chief executive officer. “For many local retail businesses, the holiday shopping season is a make-or-break time, and Americans who want to support their communities and the economy should remember to shop small.”

Though it’s too soon to know how well the day went for small businesses nationwide, a study of last year’s event revealed an 8 percent increase in sales over 2014.

The NFIB Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey said about 95 million consumers shopped at small businesses on Small Business Saturday that year.

The survey said total sales during last year’s event reached about $16.2 billion at independent retailers and restaurants, an increase of 14 percent from the $14.3 billion in sales in 2014.

The survey said the increase was due to a 48 percent increase in business advocacy groups, such as chambers of commerce, holding special events highlighting the day.

That was the case this year.

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce heavily promoted the day through traditional and social media, while the Fruita Chamber of Commerce held a scavenger hunt. Several businesses there hosted open houses with drawings for prizes.


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