People participating in Shop Small Business Saturday spent $16.2 billion across the U.S. this year, a 14 percent increase from 2014, according to a report released Monday by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express.
Lisa Farquharson, president and chief executive officer of The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce, said she received positive feedback from local businesses about the heightened focus on supporting area retailers and service providers.
“We heard from a few stores that used the marketing tools, signs and social media to promote Shop Small – they had a fabulous day for sales,” she said.
NFIB and American Express, founder of Shop Small, noted in their Nov. 30 report that a record 95 million consumers took advantage of bargains on Saturday, an 8 percent increase over 2014.
Farquharson believes raising public awareness about the tie between a thriving community and a healthy business base is showing positive results.
“For every $100 spent at an independent local store, $68 stays in our community,” she said. “For every $100 spent at a chain store in town, $43 remains in the community. For every $100 spent online or out-of-town, zero stays in our community. When dollars stay locally they recirculate about six more times, generating an investment of more than $408 from the initial $100 that was spent.
“So, if people invest in The Dalles during this holiday season, they really can make a difference.”
The chamber and The Dalles Main Street were proud to be among the 4,100 organizations identified as “Neighborhood Champions” by NFIB for rallying people to support retailers in their area, a 48 percent increase nationally from 2014.
“I want to thank everyone who came out and supported Shop Small,” said Matthew Klebes, director of Main Street.
“I am sure that you picked up some wonderful items and I want to encourage everyone to support our local businesses whenever they can throughout the year.”
The reaction from local businesses about Shop Small was cautiously optimistic.
Tina Ontiveros, manager, of Klindt’s Booksellers at 315 East Second Street, said Black Friday was busier than Small Business Saturday but there were plenty of shoppers both days.
“All in all we had a busy weekend at the bookstore and I like to think that means we will have a great holiday season,” she said.
She said with books, toys and odd gifts for great stocking stuffers, Klindt’s expects to do well in holiday sales.
Two other downtown business owners said the weekend brought a continual stream of customers.
“It went well, we had a pretty good turnout,” said Mel Mendez, owner of Gameopoly at 314 East Second Street.
He expects to sell about the same amount of quality used video games this year as in 2014 and said December is always his busiest month.
“We have reasonable prices and people can trade in games to get others so we do pretty well,” he said.
Jared Sawyer, owner of Sawyer’s True Value and Just Ask Rental at 500 East Third Street, said coffee sales at Grinders, a side business, were up 4 percent on Saturday.
He said sales at the hardware store remained about the same as every other weekend, which is still good news.
“We are a mature business and haven’t added a lot of new product lines, or expanded floor space, so things stay pretty steady,” he said.
“Given that, we will be up 4 to 5 percent in sales by the end of the year.”
The chamber and Main Street are now heavily marketing the contest tied to Shop Local and Win, which is in its third year.
People are invited to bring receipts for $100 of purchases or more to the chamber office, 404 W. Second Street, to get entered into weekly drawings through December.
Receipts are accepted not only from retail outlets, but dentists, car dealers — anywhere that people are spending money. Farquharson said the receipts are verified for eligibility but not retained.
If the business is a chamber member, the shopper gets an extra entry.
Each Thursday until Christmas, starting on Dec. 3, a ticket is drawn for one of the gift baskets.
The name of the weekly winner is being announced Friday on early-morning radio shows and posted on the chamber’s website. Tickets collected each week are also entered into the grand prize drawing at the end of the month.
Business cards are affixed to the prizes so that people have the opportunity to know where the goodies coming from, said Farquharson.
She has set a contest goal of $500,000 this year — the campaign began Nov. 27 and runs until Dec. 25 — and encourages everyone to participate.
In 2013, the first year of focused efforts, a total of 2,778 receipts were entered into drawings for gift baskets. That resulted in an expenditure of $277,000 at area establishments.
A total of 3,550 receipts were shown for entry into the 2014 drawings for a total of $355,000 in expenditures.
This year, the chamber will be moving “Olaf,” a replica of the quirky snowman from the movie “Frozen,” around town during December to draw shoppers to businesses.
The wooden character will rotate locations between nine businesses every three days for the month.
When Olaf is on the premises, shoppers will have an added opportunity to win prizes.
The usual rule of spending $100 to gain an entry into the Shop Local drawings will be suspended.
In addition, people can win a $25 gift certificate to a local store.
Olaf started his adventure at Born to Bead Wild and is now making scheduled appearances at these businesses: Dec. 2-4, The Dalles Wedding Place, 316 E. Second St.; Dec. 5-7, Ellett’s Green Ridge Tree Farm, 2715 Browns Creek Road.; Dec. 9-1, Sawyers True Value, 500 East Third Street; Dec. 12-14, Gorge Outfitters Supply in Rufus, 102 E. 1st Street; Dec. 16-18, Keller’s Brew Supply, 1800 W. 10th St.; Dec. 19-21, Urban Paper, 215 E. Second St.; Dec. 22-24, Emma’s Bowtique, 802 W. Sixth St.; and Dec. 26-28, Oregon Trail Games, 319 E. Second St.
For more information about the Shop Local or Shop Small programs call Farquharson at 296-2231 or Klebes at 541-370-2966.