Store owners gear up for Small Business Saturday

Nov 29, 2013

Away from the hustle and bustle of Destiny USA and Great Northern Mall, mom and pop shops throughout the region are working hard to promote their own version of Black Friday -- Small Business Saturday.

The city of Oswego is no different. Bill Riley, owner of the River's End Bookstore, has embraced the event since its creation several years ago. His store is hosting two local authors on Saturday, including former political cartoonist Frank Cammuso and award winning author Laurie Halse Anderson.

Books fill the shelves at the River's End Bookstore in Oswego.
Credit WRVO file photo / WRVO News

Riley says inviting the authors to meet with readers is only one of the ways his business gives back to the community supporting it.

"We're not here if they're not here. Our customers go out of their way to support the River's End Bookstore. We know they go out of their way. We know how easy it is for them to purchase books elsewhere, and yet they come back to the store."

The River's End Bookstore isn't the only business taking advantage of Small Business Saturday. On the other side of Bridge Street, in Canal Commons, a dozen shops are working together to promote the wide array of products they have for sale, including coffee, homemade candies, women's clothing and fresh baked goods.

Amy Lear sits in the backroom of Man in the Moon Candies, a small homemade chocolate and candy shop in Canal Commons. As employees fill small plastic baggies with homemade chocolate bars, she keeps a watchful eye over the production of other tasty confections.

A colorful array of lollipops greet customers at one entrance of Man in the Moon Candies in Oswego's Canal Commons.
Credit Gino Geruntino / WRVO

For Lear, Small Business Saturday isn't just a chance to make a few bucks; it's a chance to promote everything the city offers, too.

"In small cities such as Oswego, [they] are really working hard to support local businesses. In a small community, the money spent in local businesses is then again spread throughout the community. When you spend money in big box stores, it goes to the big box corporations and doesn't stay local."

According to Indie Bound, for every $100 spent at local businesses, nearly 70 percent will stay in the community. Only about $43 stays in the community when $100 is spent at a nationwide retailer.

Oswego Mayor Thomas Gillen is also throwing his weight behind Small Business Saturday. He says by shopping local, the city has more opportunities to improve its infrastructure and continue providing services.

"People think that property taxes are our biggest source of revenue. It's not. It's our sales tax. We want people to shop locally, so it's important that if you need to buy goods, services and products, you come to Oswego and buy them here. It's better for the community and it's just good business.

Gillen says in recent years, small businesses have been coming back to Oswego, and when exposure to those shops increases, it helps the city continue to grow.

American Express, which created the Small Business Saturday movement in 2010, says consumers spent an estimated $5.5 billion at independent businesses nationwide during last year's event.