Small businesses get ready to shine

So you want to shop small after spending big in a Black Friday frenzy?

Small Business Saturday, now an annual shopping holiday in its own right, will give Charlotte vendors and merchants the chance to flex their selling power and offer customers special deals and discounts.

American Express started the event in 2010 to give small businesses a share of the spotlight after Black Friday and before Cyber Monday. Shoppers spent $5.7 billion at locally owned shops and restaurants last year on Small Business Saturday, according to American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business. A survey released by them last week shows that 78 percent of shoppers plan to spend more or just as much this year.

In the days leading up to the shop-small spree, local merchants and shop owners have been expanding their reach to draw customers to their storefronts or pop-ups. Here are five things you’ll find business owners doing for Small Business Saturday:

Staying at home: Dan McCready and his team at This Land, an American-made crafts retailer, want to change the way consumers think about gift-giving this holiday season.

For Small Business Saturday, the store, which recently opened its first pop-up in SouthPark Mall, will offer shoppers a hand-woven linen wine bag. Then, they’ll encourage them to think about where in the world their gifts are made, and if they would consider supporting American craftsmen making domestic products.

“We feel like it’s a cool thing we can do … that supports another artist,” said McCready, This Land’s founder. On Saturday, you can find This Land in an originally made pop-up cart adorned with an image of a blacksmith.

Supporting local: Along with sweet treats in her store, Adria Roberson, owner of Candy Girl Confections on Selwyn Avenue, sells LuLy, a jewelry line created by two local 8-year-old girls, Lulu and Lilly.

On Saturday, Roberson will dish out free samples of her gourmet candy, but also host a mother-daughter trunk show that features the girls’ beaded creations.

“None of it is promotional,” Roberson said. “It’s all ... local. People like the story of LuLy and these little girls.”

Skipping the mall: The message blaring from South End on Saturday will be “skip the mall, we can do 30 shops for you in one place,” said Tobe Holmes, director of Historic South End.

South End again will turn into a hub of shop-small activity as close to 30 merchants crowd Triple C Brewery and take part in Shop Micro Local, a coordinated pop-up store. Pop-ups are small, temporary businesses that operate in one location for a day, weeks or months, and then leave.

The 30 vendors expected to pop up on Saturday will be selling merchandise ranging from food to candles to homemade wreaths, Holmes said.

Giving back: Speaking of Shop Micro Local, the pop-up store wants you to carry toothbrushes on your shopping spree. In partnership with the Assistance League of Charlotte, a nonprofit that supports needy children and families, Shop Micro Local is collecting brand new toothbrushes.

Each toothbrush will go to a child in need. The assistance league will have a table at Triple C Brewery. There, you can drop off the toothbrush and make a $5 tax-deductible donation to purchase a book to give to a child.

Using #hashtags: The tweets and hashtags about Small Business Saturday on Caroline Starnes’ Twitter account span at least three weeks. It’s never too early to start drumming up excitement for the day, said Starnes, owner of Guava Love Foods, a local maker and seller of foods prepared with guava juices.

She timed her social media campaign with widespread promotions for Black Friday, reminding her followers that small businesses are vying for their attention post-Thanksgiving, as well.

“It does make a difference that they see (it) several times,” she said.

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