As larger retail outlets prepare for a long weekend days of a sales windfall, Atlanta business owner Wanda Barkley just hopes her downtown boutique can attract new customers.
Barkley, who co-owns Willis Boutique with her mother, says she doesn’t participate in Black Friday.
“It’s hard. It’s very difficult to deal with the larger stores. As a small business owner you really can’t focus on that,” Barkley said. “You can’t compete with them.”
Instead, she is putting her focus on the lesser known Small Business Saturday. As a first-year participant, Barkley hopes her 36-year-old clothing and accessories store will cultivate relationships with new patrons.
“I’m hoping to gain more customers for the future. For most small businesses, it’s not just about getting more customers for the holidays. It’s about getting customers for the future.”
Barkley added that her focus wasn’t just on residents, but also tourists.
“I think it will give us a chance to reach beyond this community.”
What is Small Business Saturday?
Nestled between the big-selling holidays that are Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday aims to bring some of those seasonal consumer dollars to local-area stores. American Express founded it in 2010 as a way “to help small businesses get more exposure during one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year,” according to its Small Business Saturday site.
Part of the day’s success may rely heavily on location, location, location, according to another Atlanta-based businesswoman.
Christy Conner, owner of Unique Pizzeria, says the stores most likely to benefit are those in high-traffic areas.
“I don’t think it would have an impact where I’m located. I don’t have the foot traffic,” she said. “I’m going to be impacted very little.”
Conner said she believes only small businesses located in or near large shopping centers or heavily trafficked areas could see a boost. Her six-year-old pizzeria will not be participating in the holiday, but still plans to offer its daily deals.
Still, Connor says she believes Small Business Saturday could be a win for regional store owners.
“It’s probably a good time to have it for the mere fact you’re going to have people out and about,” said Conner who learned about Small Business Saturday from a flyer posted at small business.
Conner added that the holiday needs more visibility.
In the end, the success of the day may not be quantified so much in dollars and cents as personal connections for smaller outlets.
“What I would really like to come out of this is more customers. Maybe if I can get five or six or 10, I think I would be satisfied,” Barkley said.