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Business: Shops promote an antidote to mall fatigue

Black Friday unquestionably belongs to big name retailers who open their doors practically before Thanksgiving dinners have had a chance to get cold.

Online retailers have claimed their day with Cyber Monday.

Now, small businesses hope to lure shoppers with Small Business Saturday, a national initiative introduced in 2010, but only being discovered by many local merchants this year. A number of Waccamaw Neck businesses will participate this weekend, encouraging people to shop local and offering sales and promotions to shoppers who come in on Saturday.

“Being a small business, we’re all struggling and this is a great opportunity for the community to support us and help keep us here,” said Maria Lee, owner of Waccamaw Interiors. Her business is among those circulating flyers this week promoting Small Business Saturday. Waccamaw Interiors will also have a storewide sale on Saturday.

“Most of the homeowners here are second homeowners. They come for Thanksgiving weekend, but not Christmas. If we don’t get their business the month of November, we might not get it,” she said.

Kathy Bancroft, owner of Palm Shoes, has always supported shop local initiatives and she believes many people share her view for a variety of reasons beyond simply supporting the local economy, she said.

“I think people prefer to shop where they know people. Sometimes you just have to remind them and give them a reason to,” she said.

Small Business Saturday is an excellent way to do both, she added. Her store will offer a discount on Saturday for anyone who mentions the shop local campaign.

Lonna Handley, owner of Pawleys Pantry and a partner in the Mole Hole, heard about Small Business Saturday from another business owner and decided it was an opportunity not to be missed.

“I’m for anything that will help get people out and keep them out of the mall,” Handley said.

While Handley and other local merchants in the Pawleys Island area report Thanksgiving weekend is always one of the busiest, “we always fight the fact that big stores like Walmart open their doors at 4 in the morning, so people are up there shopping and going to the malls,” Handley said.

Additionally, “in the last couple of years with the way the economy has been, it hasn’t been as productive as in years past,” she said of Black Friday and the days immediately following.

Diane Warrick, an owner of the Hammock Shops, said she hadn’t heard about Small Business Saturday. The complex will have its open house on Dec. 3 as planned with in-store specials, giveaways, musical performances and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus from 1-3 p.m.

The Hammock Shops always has its open house on the first or second weekend of December, but if Small Business Saturday takes off, it might be moved in the future to tie in with that promotion. “That’s something we would look at,” Warrick said.

The national Small Business Saturday campaign is great, but Bancroft said would like to see a local initiative.

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