Shop 'Small' for the Holidays

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As the holidays approach, owners of “mom and pop” stores want to remind shoppers in pursuit of the perfect gift to support local businesses.

Small Business Saturday is the kickoff to the holiday shopping season for independently owned businesses, which include restaurants, bakeries, bookstores and other merchants. This year it falls on Nov. 29, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

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The event was developed to encourage consumers to back America’s smaller businesses, which support a majority of jobs in the U.S. The movement appears to be working. According to the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express Research, consumers who were aware of Small Business Saturday in 2013 spent $5.7 billion at local shops on that particular day.

“This is the third year in a row that AARP has supported Small Business Saturday,” Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president of AARP’s State and National Group, said in a statement. “We know that small business ownership provides older persons with real possibilities for added income or to fulfill a dream they’ve always had to start up their own shop. In fact, more people between the ages of 55 and 64 are becoming entrepreneurs than any other age group.”

David Goldberg, who with his wife, Bonnie, owns Baby Blossom in Fairfax and Reston, Va., says that Small Business Saturday “has definitely had an impact” on their bottom line. The shops sell baby clothes, gifts, strollers and other gear.

“We provide a high level of customer service that people don’t often find in a big-box store,” he says. “ Small businesses create a unique shopping environment — every street corner doesn’t look the same.”

Small business owners like the Goldbergs are also known for giving back to the local community. Goldberg says he organizes fundraisers for Mission Sleep, a nonprofit that provides overnight nursing care to Washington, D.C.-area military families when a partner is deployed or wounded when the baby arrives.

>> Get discounts on financial services with your AARP Member Advantages.

Small Business Saturday was supported last year by more than 1,500 small businesses, individuals and organizations including AARP.

Thinking about starting your own small business?  Check out www.aarp.org/startabusiness for resources to help, including an “Encore Entrepreneurship” online tool  from AARP and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Photo: huePhotography/iStock

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