A Big Day for Small Business

An east end boutique will offer a 15 percent discount on nearly everything in the store. In NuLu, you’ll get free gift wrapping for special works by local artists. If you’re looking for significant savings on high-quality leather goods, you may want to head to Bardstown Road. And a St. Matthews gift shop will offer in-store promotions for products that are rarely discounted.

Lullubelles co-owners Natalie Gerlack and Gretchen Black. Photo by Ryan Noltemeyer.

Lullubelles co-owners Natalie Gerlack and Gretchen Black. Photo by Ryan Noltemeyer.

These are just a few of the special deals that merchants throughout the Louisville area are planning for November 26  a.k.a. Small Business Saturday.

While national chain stores get most of the attention on Black Friday and e-commerce takes a big share of shoppers’ dollars on Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday shines a spotlight on independent, locally-owned merchants.

It’s a win-win for businesses and shoppers. Small Business Saturday will give you a chance to stretch your holiday dollars while you support Louisville’s economy and join the burgeoning buy-local movement.

Holiday Dollars and Scents

Drinks, treats, giveaways and a 15 percent discount on everything except lighting – that’s how Lulubelles Boutique will celebrate November 26, which is also the shop’s anniversary.

“Last year, we opened our doors for the first time on Small Business Saturday, so [this year] we will be celebrating in a big way,” says Natalie Gerlack, who co-owns the boutique at 10638 Meeting St. in Prospect with her cousin, Gretchen Black.

Gerlack says she thinks many shoppers will be tired of fighting crowds, especially if they spent Black Friday in the malls, so they’ll be happy to “come out to Lulubelles for an enjoyable holiday experience on Saturday and Sunday. Our shop will smell like Christmas as we will be burning our new holiday signature scent, Frasier Fir. You can expect our boutique to be cozy, festive and a little whimsical, so it’s a perfect spot both for holiday shopping and to get away from the hustle and bustle.”

Lulubelles sells vintage and modern goods, including furniture, home accessories, candles and jewelry. “We also carry lots of vintage-inspired holiday decorations and unique items only found at Lulubelles, such as hand-painted ornaments by me and Gretchen,” Gerlack says. “There is a little something for everyone – your best friend, boyfriend, baby, young child, mom, grandma. We have you covered and we have great price points and pretty packaging for gifts. So we are hoping all of these offerings entice people to want to visit us on Small Business Saturday.”

The Art of Shopping Local

In the NuLu area, Mo McKnight Howe, whose title is Owner + Artist at Revelry Boutique Gallery at 742 E. Market St. says, “We will be participating in Small Business Saturday once again, and we are so excited! It’s always a great day for us. I feel like a lot of the customers that come in are ‘anti-Black Friday,’ which I love.”

Revelry Boutique Gallery Owner + Artist Mo McKnight Howe. Photo by James Eaton.

Revelry Boutique Gallery Owner + Artist Mo McKnight Howe. Photo by James Eaton.

But she also notes that “actually, both Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are great days” for Revelry, which promotes area artists through both an online store and a brick-and-mortar boutique. Revelry sells art as well as handmade jewelry and home decor.

“We always change up our inventory every year for Small Business Saturday,” McKnight says. “Our artists have been preparing for months, and they’re just as excited as we are. It’s a great time of year to make some money for us little guys.”

The store exhibits both up-and-coming and established artists from Louisville’s thriving creative community, and the goal is to make art accessible to everyone. McKnight Howe says Revelry will offer free gift wrapping on November 26, and the proceeds of the wrapper’s tip jar will benefit the American Cancer Society.

At 1601 Bardstown Road, the Leatherhead Shop will celebrate the special day by offering a 20 percent discount on everything except custom-designed products. The Leatherhead, which has been at its current location for more than three decades, sells very high quality leather goods, including bags, belts, boots and saddlery.

According to Lynn Boone, who co-owns the store with her husband Nick Boone, past Small Business Saturdays have brought the shop a definite increase in sales because “people in Louisville are really receptive to shopping at local stores.”

She and nine other merchants in the area have banded together for a campaign they’re calling Bonnycastle Gives Back on Small Business Saturday. Each of the 10 stores will offer a five to 20 percent discount, and a percentage of sales will be donated to charity. You’ll even get to decide where the money goes from your purchases because you’ll be able to pick from a list of 10 organizations.

A Boost for Local Economies

First celebrated in Roslindale Village, Massachusetts, on November 27, 2010, Small Business Saturday was coined by American Express, which has promoted it via radio and television commercials as well as social media.

Since then, cities and towns throughout the country have promoted their own special day for local merchants. Last year, more than 95 million consumers spent about $16.2 billion on Small Business Saturday. Of course, this is a big boost for local economies. Studies have found that $55 is reinvested in the community for every $100 dollars spent at a locally-owned store, but only $14 is reinvested from the same amount spent at a national chain store.

If you want to reinvest some of your money in the St. Matthews community, you may want to visit Two Dazzle!, where the slogan is “we make each day a gift!”

“Approaching our seventh holiday season as an independent store, we have always enjoyed participating in Small Business Saturday,” says co-owner Ronda Simmons.

Located at 3819 Willis Ave., Two Dazzle! provides a boutique-style shopping experience with personal customer service and complimentary gift wrapping. You can buy wedding and baby gifts, wine- and cocktail-themed gifts and decor, casual and formal houseware gifts, girlfriend/Bunco gifts as well as such accessories as candlesticks, topiaries and both custom and pre-made silk floral arrangements.

“We have found, throughout the years, that Black Friday mainly caters to the big box stores; however, Small Business Saturday gives us the opportunity to give back,” Simmons says. “It’s an opportunity for us to thank our wonderful, loyal customers and our community for their continued support of our small, local business all year long.”

Simmons adds that “Although AmEx rewards cardholders for their purchases on this day, we also offer in-store promotions on gift lines that are rarely discounted. These promos may also include new seasonal and gift merchandise introduced for this holiday season. In the past, we’ve also offered tiered price discounts and give-aways, and this has increased store traffic and sales from year to year.”

She also notes that, “Surprisingly, not many customers take advantage of cardholder credits by using their AmEx for purchases. It appears to us that customer motivation is more about visiting small shops and boutiques, showing their support and, most importantly, shopping local.”

Keeping the Holidays Weird

Shopping at locally-owned businesses creates jobs. It preserves the unique character of the Louisville Metro community and it helps conserve energy and resources because it lessens the amount of fuel used to transport goods. These are just a few of the benefits of buying from local merchants, according to the Louisville Independent Business Alliance (LIBA).

For more than a decade, LIBA has promoted independent businesses through the simple black-and-white “Keep Louisville Weird” slogan and logo. Co-founder John Timmons first posted it on a Bardstown Road billboard in 2005.

This year, LIBA is making several special efforts to keep the upcoming holidays weird, including offering merchants Small Business Saturday promotional materials such as tote bags, welcome mats, buttons, pennants, posters and even pet bandannas.

“We work with American Express to get materials for our members, and then we put our own unique twist on them,” says LIBA Director Jennifer Rubenstein, who notes that she has seen an increasing number of Louisville-area merchants participating in Small Business Saturday during the past few years.

LIBA has published a guide to local shopping, and it invited its members to attend a presentation from the Small Business Development Center called “Last-Minute Ways o Up Your Holiday Sales Game.”

LIBA even provides chalk that merchants can use to draw a Buy Local message for Small Business Saturday. “We encourage our members to chalk a message on their sidewalk, take a picture of it and promote it via social media. It adds to the Small Business Saturday buzz,” Rubenstein says.

LIBA also creates buzz through its hoLOUdays Contest. By collecting receipts from LIBA business members, you could win a $1,000 local shopping spree.

“We’ve had the holiday contest in one form or another since 2008, so it predates Small Business Saturday,” Rubenstein notes, “but once that day came along, it’s been great to have American Express promoting local shopping, and we decided to launch our holiday contest on Small Business Saturday. It’s been a great thing for us and for our members.” VT

For more information on the contest and on LIBA’s efforts to promote local merchants, visit keeplouisvilleweird.com.