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Valley stores prepare for Small Business Saturday

WARREN — Saturday marks the 14th annual Small Business Saturday, a day to celebrate, or better yet, shop or dine at small businesses — what the U.S. Small Business Administration calls “the engines” of the economy.

Founded by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday has, according to the SBA, become vital for small businesses during the busy holiday shopping season.

Projected spending by U.S. consumers who shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday reached an estimated $17.9 billion, according to the SBA, citing the 2022 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey commissioned by American Express.

Tom and Sandy Maloy own the family-run Neal’s Shoes and Uniforms in the Warren Plaza on Elm Road in Warren.

Small Business Saturday, Tom Maloy said, is meaningful for the retailer.

“It’s important to us. The big box stores, they get all of the attention …” Tom Maloy said, adding “our business has been pretty good.”

“Word of mouth” is how Neal’s Shoes and Uniforms mostly attracts new customers, Tom Maloy said, but having a day set aside to focus on small businesses also helps attracts new customers.

“It’s been growing because there are a certain group of people who want to shop local and shop with small businesses,” he said. “We’ve seen a rise every year in promotions and also in sales.”

The SBA became a co-sponsor in 2011.

According to the agency, small businesses are “the engines of our economy,” creating two-thirds of net new jobs. Ohio has more than 989,000 small businesses that employ 2.2 million people, according to the SBA.

Among them are more than 90,000 retailers.

The day levels the playing field for small businesses, enabling them to “capture a larger piece of the critical holiday season consumer spending by getting more customers through their doors,” according to the SBA.

“By shopping small, we help create and preserve jobs which expands opportunities for inclusive prosperity and generational wealth building in communities,” SBA Great Lakes Regional Administrator Geri Aglipay said.

Shopping small online is also encouraged, because it helps make small businesses competitive across global markets, according to the SBA.

In Ohio, the Ohio Department of Development is encouraging Ohioans to shop small and support local businesses on Saturday.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and there’s no better time to support them than this holiday season,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. “By shopping locally, you’re supporting Ohio’s entrepreneurs and ensuring the dollars spent stay in our communities.”

The state recognizes the positive economic impact of these businesses and encourages Ohioans to support their local restaurants, boutiques and venues, a release states.

“If you haven’t started checking off that holiday gift list already, there’s no better time to start than Small Business Saturday,” Lydia Mihalik, director of the Department of Development, said. “This day is an opportunity to explore and discover the unique charm, exceptional products, and services that Ohio neighborhood shops offer.”

Barbie Yoder is general manager of Countryside Furnishings, a custom crafted furniture store in Middlefield. The support from the community “definitely means a lot,” she said.

“If I get customers in that I know are supporting me just because I am a local small business, those are the customers — obviously, we’re going to treat all customers the same — but those are the customers we appreciate the most,” she said.

They could go elsewhere, but rather choose to shop local and support a locally-owned small business, and “we really do appreciate” that, she said.

Said Everett Woodel, SBA Columbus District Director: “Growing up in a small business, I learned firsthand from my mother the importance of entrepreneurs to our economy. Small Business Saturday is not just a day to shop; it’s a day to connect, appreciate, and celebrate the unique character of all communities throughout Ohio while helping to foster investments in neighborhood growth and economic development.”

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