Shopping Local on Small Business Saturday

The events of Black Friday -- and even this year's "Brown Thursday" -- have been well documented: the lines, the doorbuster deals and the crowds.

Mitch Crank wanted nothing to do with it.

"I had no desire to shop yesterday, fight the crowds, possibly buy something where I wasn't going to save any money," he said. "I'd prefer to shop today where it's more leisurely where I could also support local small businesses in Lansing."

Crank spent his afternoon sifting through racks of clothing at Kositchek's in downtown Lansing. He said a well-staffed store with a one-of-a-kind selection appealed to him more than a traditional department store.

"I could be at a Macy's in any city in the country and it would be the same," he said. "To come to Kositchek's is someplace unique to Lansing and I think that offers something that I appreciate."

Down the street in Old Town, many shoppers say they felt the same way.

"A lot of the products you're going to find down here are hand-crafted products," said Theresa Thompson of Dewitt. "You pay a little more for them but they're beautiful and it's worth it. It really is, it's worth it."

Small Business Saturday is an annual event started by American Express in 2010. The purpose is to draw attention to and support small businesses across the country.

"I think sometimes it's easy for them to be forgotten about especially with the national budgets of some of the big box and large retailers," said Tim Daman, president and CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. "So again this is a great opportunity to really promote local and buy local and think local small businesses first."

Sales do see a small boost, said Chad Jordan, who owns Cravings Gourmet Popcorn in Old Town, but the purpose of the day is more to generate a buzz and create returning customers.

"It's almost like a reminder to say, 'hey, you've done all your big shopping, go out and buy some things for your family and your friends somewhere that's local,'" he said. "There are many times when people will drive by a small business to get to some famous brand name place where they could have gotten a similar deal from the small business. And on top of that, they could have gotten awesome customer service and personal attention."

The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce -- of which small businesses make up 80 percent of membership -- says the goal is to spark support for business all year long, as well as reminding people how important mom-and-pop establishments can be.

"I think when you start looking at the local economies, the data shows that two out of three jobs are created by small businesses," said Daman. "I think it's just a great reminder of the entrepreneurial spirit that's alive and well here."

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