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Shoppers hit local stores ahead of Small Business Saturday
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Gem Jewelry co-owner Linda Orenstein at her downtown square store Friday afternoon. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Gem Jewelry Company owner Linda Orenstein noted that term “Small Business Saturday” was coined by the American Express Company, but the marketing just stuck.

“It’s sponsored by American Express, but then everybody kind of jumped on the bandwagon,” she said.

Local retailers in Gainesville, like Gem Jewelry, are hoping that shoppers embrace the notion of buying small and local on the Saturday of the year’s most popular shopping weekend after they came out in strong numbers Friday.

“Judging by today, there have been a lot more people than normal,” said Steven Strittmatter, owner of Horse and Hound on the square in Gainesville. “We always promote Small Business Saturday through our Facebook page.”

The owner of the shop next door, Frames You Nique, had similar feedback.

“We’ve been busy today,” said Don Griffin. “It’s ‘Small Business Saturday’ but today has seen a lot of people.”

He said some customers suggested that large retailers, seizing on opening up shop on Thanksgiving Day in increasing numbers, may have shifted the small business crowd to Friday.

“I’ll be curious to see what happens tomorrow,” he said.

Griffin noted that Thanksgiving fell on the latest possible day in the month, shortening the perceived “shopping period” between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and putting extra pressure on retailers to reach customers.

“We’re trying to make it a good holiday season for folks and began a lot of our seasonal mark downs today,” he said. “We want to entice people to come downtown, because they’ll need a head start on framing — you have to get people thinking early.”

To attract customers, Orenstein said the shop decided to bring back a popular clearance deal based on chance.

“Any regular priced item, you can get a discount from 15 to 50 percent — it depends on how lucky you are,” she said. “We’ve been doing it this way for five years, and people have said they’re looking forward to it.”

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