Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Chris Simonian of 47th Place talks about the importance of supporting small local businesses.
A tradition begun by credit card company American Express in 2009 continues today in the shadow of Black Friday. Local retailers will welcome shoppers for Small Business Saturday, including some businesses that normally close on weekends.
One such shop is downtown Leighton’s Jewelers, 111 S. D St., which will be open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and every Saturday until Christmas. “We don’t do Saturdays. We’re closed on Saturday except for December,” said owner Chris Miller.
But he has a good reason for making an exception at this time of the year, and it isn’t because the latest jewelry styles have arrived at the store.
“For us in the small business world, our busiest day is about three days before Christmas … Husbands come in. They’re last-minute shoppers. That’s when the men are buying jewelry,” Miller said. “The women, on the other hand, they’ll start Thanksgiving Day and the men will be packed along to carry stuff. They’re the mules.”
Family-owned Braga Organic Farms will be ready for customers from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at its newly completed storefront at 2592 Mitchell Court on a corner shared with Granada Drive. All in-shell pistachios, whether raw or roasted, will be on sale today, and like all of Braga’s products they’re certified organic and kosher as well as free from any trace of peanuts or genetic tampering.
“We see a lot of people coming in that are from Madera and, even at the Pomegranate Festival, folks from all over ... the whole Central Valley who are excited about buying organic products locally,” said Braga sales manager Aaron Bagato. “So I think it’s exciting to see people interested in something that’s really important and also so nearby.”
American Express kicked off Small Business Saturday in 2009 as a campaign to lure its card users back to neighborhood merchants after a major recession had shaken consumer confidence. As years passed, credit card incentives faded as the shopping holiday took on a life of its own. Since 2011, Congress even officially designates its date each year.
“It’s great because we need to return the focus to local businesses,” said Chantal Sagouspe, who works at The Vineyard Restaurant and Bar. “Otherwise one day you’re going to wake up and you’re only going to have big box stores where the owners don’t know you, you don’t know the owners (and) everything’s homogenized.”
That isn’t what you can expect, she said, from long-established, family owned businesses like the Vineyard, which will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. at 605 South I St. “We have generations of families who come in. We know the families. They know us. You get the kind of service you won’t get from the chain restaurants or big box stores.”
According to Grasshopper.com, 95 million people — including the Obama family — spent $16.2 billion at small businesses on the national day in 2015. Small business spending today is projected to rise 10 percent compared to last year. A civic economics study in Grand Rapids, Michigan, found that when $100 is spent at a small business, roughly $68 stays in the local economy, but $100 spent at a large business only contributes $43 to a local economy. That money stays due to local taxes, wages, services, supplies and donations.
“We’ve always tried to be an asset to the community,” said Dennis Smith, owner of General Builders Supply, 1808 Howard Road. “Part of being an asset to the community is shopping local. So whenever we buy anything at the store, we try to do everything local, whether it’s the vehicle, repairs on the building or anything we need to use daily.”
Small businesses donate 250 percent more to nonprofits and community causes than larger businesses, according to the Seattle Good Business Network.
“We’re proud to have been a Madera small business since 1979,” said Chris Simonian, owner of 47th Place, 1717 Howard Road. “We enjoy participating with community events – glad that we can help. We love small businesses and would like to see them thrive.”