Beaufort small businesses plan alternative Black Friday events

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Beaufort small businesses plan alternative Black Friday events

Main Street Beaufort, USA, American Express plug promotion
By RACHEL HEATON
rheaton@beaufortgazette.com
Published Friday, November 25, 2011   |  464 Words  |  

After-Thanksgiving shopping can mean early mornings spent waiting in line and a scramble to beat other consumers to snag the hottest deals.

Or, local small business owners say, it could mean a leisurely day spent enjoying cider and cookies, walking downtown streets and being treated like a family member.

Many locally owned boutiques, gift shops and other retailers are participating in "Small Business Saturday," a national campaign by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Express to encourage shoppers to independently owned stores.

Shop owners in Beaufort said they've planned sales and special events to celebrate the day.

LaNelle Fabian, executive director of Main Street Beaufort, USA, said she's been "eating, sleeping and breathing" Small Business Saturday, working to promote it in recent weeks.

Fabian said she hopes for a good turnout in downtown Beaufort. Many stores plan to serve refreshments and hold sales. The Lollipop Shop will even have carolers and a book signing, she said. Raffles for a $100 gift certificate to a downtown merchant and a night's stay at the Beaufort Inn will be held.

And there's another promotion that could get people through the doors, she said: As part of Small Business Saturday, American Express card-holders can get a $25 credit on their card bill if they spend $25 at a small business and register online before shopping.

Fabian will be there with her laptop Saturday helping shoppers register their card if they forgot to in advance.

For Fabian, shopping locally provides a singular experience.

"You can get a unique gift at a small business," she said. "You have that peace of mind that you're helping out the local economy, and maybe you're helping out a friend or neighbor."

Fabian said research shows that $69 of every $100 spent at a small business stays in the community through taxes, payroll and other means.

Susan Collins, manager at Divine Shoes, said the store is looking forward to this shopping weekend, which always tends to be bustling and full of fun.

"People are out and about, and if the weather is cooperating it puts them in a good mood," Collins said. "They've got full stomachs from Thanksgiving and they want to get out and walk around."

Many people bring in visiting friends and family, she said, and they take time to catch up with those they know and meet those they
don't.

"It's like that old adage -- when you're here, you're family," Collins said. "There is a personal touch and attention to detail that is unique to the small shopkeeper versus the big store."

Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.