Local businesses are capitalizing on days that shoppers are already eager to be out and about.
Special holiday shopping days like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday take a bit of a twist when it comes to small businesses. Locally-owned shops typically can’t offer as deep of discounts or slash prices as dramatically as larger retailers, but many businesses still want to find a way to reward their loyal customers.
Hearing Black Friday conjures up images of lines of shoppers camping outside of big-box retailers during the early morning hours, followed by massive crowds and long lines. However, Black Friday in the Short North takes on a different feeling.
Rowe Boutique owner Maren Roth says the store sees a steady flow of shoppers, but it’s not crazy or overwhelming, describing it as a fun atmosphere.
The area offers an alternative for shoppers who may not be interested in malls or chain retailers.
“In general Short North is becoming more of a shopping destination,” says Mike Renner, Owner of What the Rock?!. “It’s an alternative, but also becoming a first choice for people as well.”
Even if the discount doesn’t match the margins of large retailers, Black Friday sales are still proving effective. Roth says it’s their second biggest day of the year. Renner also says that over the six years the store has offered the shopping-day discounts, sales have become stronger.
When Renner started offering discounts, the goal was to see if Black Friday could even have a presence in an area like Short North. The answer seems to be yes. Both owners note several other business in the area that indicate they will have specials, including The Green Olive Company and Dames Bond Marketplace.
However, Friday isn’t the only day on shop-owners’ radars. An increasing number are including discounts on Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.
Rowe Boutique and What the Rock?! have plans to give back to customers during these two days as well. Roth says Rowe doesn’t see as high of traffic on Saturday, but they are hoping to change that through promotion. However, Renner says his store sees a jump in sales on both Saturday and Monday.
While not all shops see a boost in sales on Saturday, research by Small Business Saturday sponsors, American Express, show nationwide awareness is growing. There has been a 10 percent increase in awareness of the day from 2012 to 2013, jumping from 34 to 44 percent. However, of those that are aware, 77 percent plan to shop local.
And Columbus residents will have ample opportunity to do so. The shopping guide on the American Express website shows a significant number of local businesses that qualify for the AMEX special.