After pandemic-slowed economy, Georgia shoppers venture out for Small Business Saturday

FullScope Sports owner Bobby Young talks about his business outside his store on Small Business Saturday in  Smyrna, November 27, 2021. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

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FullScope Sports owner Bobby Young talks about his business outside his store on Small Business Saturday in Smyrna, November 27, 2021. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Bobby Young opened his sporting goods business in March 2020, about a week before he had to shut down again at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in Georgia.

This year, Young said he hopes customers’ desire to keep their shopping local will extend past Small Business Saturday and keep them coming back to FullScope Sports in Smyrna year-round.

“We want to be your neighborhood running and sporting goods store,” Young said, adding that the store fits running shoes as well as provides sporting equipment to several young athletes. “We want to be ingrained and when people think ‘I need this (sporting good),’ they may come right down the street here.”

Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 by credit card giant American Express and has become a fixture of the holiday shopping weekend.

Almost the opposite of Black Friday — the day people flock to big-box retailers or buy online for advertised deals — Small Business Saturday celebrates local entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Across the state, small business owners offered sales and special events around the day focused on bringing customers to locally owned establishments.

In Cobb County, the Smyrna Business Association uses the day to urge neighbors to visit the city’s brick-and-mortar shops — whether they’re a mom-and-pop store or a franchise of a larger company. This is the second time they’ve held Shop Smyrna Saturday, said Smyrna Business Association President Sara Sorenson.

This year, organizers hoped to increase foot traffic by offering three $100 gift cards that will be raffled off to those who visited one of the 16 participating businesses and scanned the business’ QR code.

“The goal is to draw people to recognize and know our local businesses to spend money at the start of the holiday season and all holiday season long at local businesses and keep that money in the community,” said Sorenson, who owns a law practice in Smyrna.

The “shop local” day also comes before Cyber Monday, an annual day designed to encourage holiday shoppers to go online.

An average of 67 cents of every dollar spent at a small business stays in the local community, according to the 2018 Small Business Economic Impact Study from American Express. In a separate 2018 study, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and American Express found that roughly 90 percent of consumers believe it’s more important than ever to support local retailers.

Americans spent about $20 billion on Small Business Saturday last year, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, up slightly from the year before.

However, this time last year, spending in Georgia was down about 8.8% compared to the beginning of the pandemic, according to an economic tracker run by Harvard University. Georgians are spending 22.1% more than they were at the beginning of the pandemic, as of Nov. 14.

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Employee Kate Dabson (C) works with Katy Nichols and her son Hiden (6) to make decorations at an AR Workshop during Small Business Saturday in Smyrna November 27, 2021. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Employee Kate Dabson (C) works with Katy Nichols and her son Hiden (6) to make decorations at an AR Workshop during Small Business Saturday in Smyrna November 27, 2021.  STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

caption arrowCaption
Employee Kate Dabson (C) works with Katy Nichols and her son Hiden (6) to make decorations at an AR Workshop during Small Business Saturday in Smyrna November 27, 2021. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Katy Nichols, a Smyrna resident, stopped by A&R Worskshop in Smyrna to make ornaments with her family who is in town visiting for Thanksgiving. It’s the second time the family has made the trip to the do-it-yourself home decor studio.

“This has been a great fun thing for us to do with the family,” she said. “It’s great that Smyrna is finding ways to get people to shop at local businesses.”

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