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Local business owners seek support from shoppers Saturday
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Amanda Norton watches as Julie Anne Eavenson, a sales associate at Mena Mae Children’s Boutique, scans items Friday in downtown Gainesville. Small Business Saturday was started in 2010 to encourage communities to shop at local stores such as Mena Mae. - photo by Erin O. Smith

If you needed more reasons to shop locally, business owners are happy to oblige.

“Do you appreciate the fact that small businesses subsidize your personal power bill?” asked Don Griffin, owners of Frames You-Nique in Gainesville.

There are a number of reasons to support small local businesses. Today’s Small Business Saturday, in the wake of Black Friday, is a good time to go out and show support, according to Regina Mansfield with Main Street Gainesville.

Griffin said small businesses contribute directly to their communities by paying taxes toward local education and making more local charitable donations than big-name chain stores.

“Do you like being able to speak to the boss instead of having to jump through corporate hurdles?” he said. “If you go into a shop and have an issue, do you want to get it resolved right away or do you want to sit and go through the channels of a corporation? That’s why it’s important to support local businesses.”

Mansfield said many of the businesses in downtown Gainesville will be open for business today and are asking residents to come out for their holiday shopping.

“We definitely promote Small Business Saturday with social media and we also have merchants downtown who participate in that,” she said.

Main Street Gainesville will also kick off a “Shop Local” campaign in conjunction with Small Business Saturday to encourage area residents and downtown merchants to retain the vitality of the downtown area.

“It’s really to let people know our downtown shops are open for business,” she said. “That way they know to come downtown. A lot of our merchants are doing deals and discounts, so while it’s not going to be apparent if you come downtown that it’s Small Business Saturday everywhere, there will be stuff going on.”

Mansfield said while Small Business Saturday has an important message in supporting local business, she would hope residents treat every day of the year as “Small Business Day,” which is the purpose of the Shop Local campaign.

The first three Thursdays in December, downtown Gainesville shops will be open later in the evenings for “Shop Home for the Holidays,” a chance for shoppers to fill their Christmas lists.

“We encourage everybody to shop around the entire square,” Mansfield said. “We’re excited about it. We have so many new stores this year, so there’s a selection for everybody.”

Griffin said Small Business Saturday is in some ways a local push following Black Friday, when most shoppers go to the mall or major retailers instead of local stores.

Hilary Harper, public relations for Dress Up Boutique, said the Gainesville store will carry over any Black Friday sale items Saturday.

“We have the store on the square and our corporate headquarters,” Harper said. “So we’re providing jobs for the community and giving back to our local community. You get that feel of community rather than a big-box retailer.”

Mansfield said she believes local businesses in Gainesville make the city what it is.

“I honestly believe our local shops and store owners give the character and personality to our downtown, truly,” she said. “That’s what you can get; you can create a relationship with a business downtown. These are people in our community, who live here, shop here, pay taxes here.

“Imagine what our downtown would be like if those shops weren’t there. We’re so fortunate in Gainesville to have such a vibrant and charming downtown.”

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