Forget Black Friday; shop local Saturday

Published 9:47 am Friday, November 23, 2012

Forget Black Friday. Remember “Small Business Saturday.”

Retailers rely on the Christmas shopping period – the 32 days between Black Friday and Christmas – for 80 percent of their annual sales.

The day is part of a nationwide campaign, which American Express founded in 2010. The credit card company is giving a $25 statement credit to cardholders if they spend at least $25 in local stores tomorrow. To receive credit, eligible cardholders need to register. According to the company’s website, participants include some 100 merchants in Andalusia, 15 in Florala and 70 in Opp.

This year many large-box retailers opened the evening of Thanksgiving to maximize the shopping time; however, shoppers shouldn’t forget about the local retailers who mean so much to the local economy, officials said.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” said Andalusia city clerk John Thompson. “Without them, the mom-and-pop and main street businesses, there wouldn’t be much of an economy in Andalusia or anywhere else in our country.”

Thompson said small businesses “combined are the equivalent of many large businesses in terms of employment and sales tax revenue producers.”

And that revenue is need in all parts of the county, including Florala and Opp.

“Small businesses are very important because those cash dollars come back to the people,” said Opp Mayor John Bartholomew. “By shopping local, it’s investing in one’s own self because what it does is creates revenue.”

Florala Mayor Robert Williamson said he always encourages residents to shop at home all year long.

“I do believe you find as good, or better, deals in town that driving out of town,” Williamson said. “It’s safer, too, because you don’t have to get out on the busy highways.”

Thompson said, “So you can see that small businesses have a major impact on their economy because they’re also doing business here as well.”