For the first time this year, small business leaders in Bellevue, Pennsylvania, launched a coordinated effort to celebrate Small Business Saturday as a community on Nov. 25. The Bellevue Initiative for Growth and Revitalization (BIGr) leveraged local and national resources to get small businesses and consumers excited about shopping small. A kick-off to the holiday shopping season, the Small Business Saturday celebration also kicked off a new experience for many local businesses.
“There’s just so much love here,” says Samantha Post, who led BIGr’s Small Business Saturday planning committee. Outside her work with BIGr, Post serves as the marketing and human resources manager for her T & M Hardware, a locally owned Do it Best Corp. member and STIHL outdoor power equipment dealer. The customers who come into her family’s hardware store “really want to shop local,” according to Post. She knows how lucky her family’s business is – and how unique.
“There’s other businesses that aren’t feeling that love,” she says. “It’s really important to me to make sure that other business owners share in that experience.”
To create the experience, BIGr registered as a Neighborhood Champion with American Express, which spearheads the Small Business Saturday movement. Before the big day, the BIGr team distributed marketing materials from American Express to local businesses, so that shops could present a united front. On Nov. 25, they set up a welcome station at a local church that serves as a popular gathering place – appropriately called “the Center.” From there, they distributed a holiday gift guide that highlighted the nearby small businesses, Small Business Saturday tote bags from American Express, snacks and coupons.
“The day was amazing and the spirit was felt,” Post says of the experience. “The streets were packed.” Bellevue’s Small Business Saturday celebration also featured a food truck, free gift-wrapping services and plenty of holiday cheer.
Post spoke to one business owner that afternoon who had exceeded last year’s Small Business Saturday sales total by midday this year. Still, it wasn’t all about dollars and cents.
“Even if no one bought anything, we at least planted the seed,” Post says.
The Small Business Saturday celebration is just one way that small business leaders in Bellevue are stepping up this time of year. The community recently welcomed the holiday season with a Christmas tree-lighting event that featured carolers, Santa Claus and a holiday market.
“Our community is going to benefit because of these grassroots initiatives,” Post says.
Bellevue’s holiday celebrations are a timely reminder of the opportunities that communities and their small businesses have this time of year. With initiative and cooperation, small businesses can spread the local love to their customers – and their bottom lines – during the holiday season.