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W.Va. small businesses in spotlight on Saturday


PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Local business owners know there will be a run on big box and chain stores for Black Friday, but they’re hoping folks will continue their Christmas shopping the next day for Small Business Saturday.

A movement started in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday is intended to encourage people to shop at and support their locally owned businesses, which make up an important part of the economy.

“It shows loyalty; it helps people refocus on the local business owners,” said Victoria Yater, owner of Gift Gallery of Vienna. “It reminds locals that the people who are in the store are the ones who brought the store to the area.”

Yater said she tries to practice what she preaches, renting space from a local business, having insurance through a local agency and advertising in local media.

Refreshments from other local businesses will be available at the Gift Gallery, at 1515 Grand Central Ave., along with special offers and discounts on Saturday.

Owner Rich Beckwith said he’s had a few people come into Angler’s Xstream Outfitters & Sportswear at 2109 Camden Ave. in Parkersburg the last couple of years specifically for Small Business Saturday. He said businesses like his can’t compete with the deals offered by big box stores.

“(I assume) they’re counting on volume to make up for what they lose on some of those specials,” he said.

But Angler’s Xstream will have discounts of its own on Saturday and throughout the holiday season.

“I just hope people take the time to visit the small businesses in their area,” Beckwith said. “You’ll miss them when they’re gone.”

Angler’s Xstream, Gift Gallery, North End Market, da Vinci’s restaurant and S&P Harley-Davidson were featured in an email sent out by the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley this week urging members to support one another on Saturday. The majority of the chamber’s membership – and a majority of local employers – are small businesses, said Jill Parsons, chamber president and CEO.

“Many of our small business member retailers and restaurants will be open throughout the Thanksgiving holiday, taking time away from their own families to do what they love and to do what allows them to be strong employers for many in the community,” she said. “If you aren’t able to patronize the local small businesses on Saturday, please make an effort to do so soon to show your support for their efforts to provide wonderful goods and services close to home.”

Figures from West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research show about 42 percent of workers statewide are employed by small businesses, according to a release from Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s office.

“Small businesses are an essential part of our strong economic foundation in West Virginia, and I urge everyone to think local, visit the small businesses and support them- because you’re supporting your neighbors and your community,” Tennant said in the release.

Small Business Saturday is also being promoted in Marietta, where customers who shop at downtown businesses from Saturday through Dec. 6 will be asked to fill out a slip saying how much money they spent at the store to be entered into a drawing for gift cards and Marietta Bucks.

In Belpre, shoppers making a purchase at one of more than 20 participating retailers can enter drawings for a chance to win gift cards or a gift basket.

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