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Small Business Saturday

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Bobbis at Parkside

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NAOKI Japanese Cuisine

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Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally the kickoff to the holiday shopping season, with Black Friday being the launch for big-name brick-and-mortar stores and Cyber Monday kicking off online deals. Nestled between those two dates is another shopping holiday that highlights locally-owned establishments.

First launched in 2010, Small Business Saturday (also called Shop Small Saturday) highlights the value of shopping, eating and spending money locally. In 2016, shoppers spent an estimated $15.4 billion at independently-owned businesses on Small Business Saturday, according to the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express. This year’s shop small day is set for Nov. 25 with record sales expected nationwide.

In Brevard County, small businesses will embrace the date by inviting shoppers to buy local. Bobbi Whitmore owns Bobbi’s at Parkside, a clothing and jewelry boutique in Cocoa Village. She plans something special for customers every Small Business Saturday as a way to say thank you for their support year-round. This year, she’s planned free gift wrapping, social media contests, giveaways, and wine for shoppers.

“With the onslaught of mega-online retailers, it is imperative that people support their local small businesses. Communities need to come together and support their local small businesses or they will cease to exist,” Whitmore said.  

“As always, that is a two-way street and the small business owners need to give our valued customers a reason to come out and support us. It’s a win-win when we do.”

The Avenue Viera will promote its small businesses leading up to Nov. 25, encouraging local shoppers to stop into any number of its independent shops on Small Business Saturday.

“Every day I see the pride, the hard work and the passion these owners put into their craft. Small businesses are the first to give back to their community, they provide hands-on customer service and offer unique and diverse products,” said Michelle Bujold, marketing coordinator at The Avenue Viera. “We’re proud of the flavor our small businesses bring here and encourage everyone to get involved in the small-business movement.”

Among The Avenue businesses taking part in Small Business Saturday are Kinna Blow Dry Bar, Delta Life Fitness, Addy Rose Hair Studio, and the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce, which has its headquarters at The Avenue.

Pam Morales Worsham is the owner of Cocoa Beach Parasail, which picks up patrons from Sunrise Marina in Port Canaveral and parasails in the Atlantic Ocean. Since Florida’s Space Coast provides great weather year-round, Worsham sees interest from people wanting to give the experience as a gift or wanting to plan a family excursion. On Small Business Saturday, Brevard parasailers can take 15 percent off all flights with valid ID.

“It's important to support and shop local because by doing so, you're essentially supporting your own community,” Worsham said. “When businesses thrive, they invest and employ their local communities. When residents are employed, they are generally spending their income in their home area. It's a wonderful symbiotic relationship between the two.”

Locally-owned restaurants play a big part in Small Business Saturday, and the small-business economy nationally.

NAOKI Japanese Cuisine, at 3360 Dixie Highway in Palm Bay, opened in January and will celebrate its first Shop Small Saturday this year. NAOKI plans to have tasting specials so customers can try a few new items.

“We believe that every person deserves access to quality food and products. We focus on fresh and unique food that are popular in Japan that we don't see much in the area,” co-owner Monica Beolet said. “Eating locally definitely offers a fresher and unique experience that they can only have at a local family owned business.”

Beolet said that the NAOKI dining experience is becoming more social media-centric, with customers sharing their meal photos and recommendations through platforms like Instagram and Facebook. She said there’s a community vibe in-person, too.

“I see customers who don't know each other having conversations about what they like and what they recommend. I strongly think shopping and eating locally bring people closer together,” Beolet said.

American Express launched Small Business Saturday in 2010, the day was officially recognized by the U.S. Senate in 2011, and events took place in all 50 states by 2012. When Small Business Saturday launched, American Express offered rewards, like cashback credits, to cardholders who shopped small on the designated date. While no incentives have been offered since 2015, American Express remains involved by providing signs and other promotional materials to independent business owners and supporters.

“By shopping small you drive business in Brevard. Local merchants hire staff to help run their business, adding to Brevard’s low unemployment rate. They pay FP&L for their electricity, the City of Melbourne for water and sewer, and Florida City Gas for natural gas; all of these businesses in turn employ tens of thousands of staff living in Brevard, maybe even you, a friend or a loved one,” Justin Anderson, Interim President and CEO of the Melbourne Regional Chamber, said.

“All of these activities have a direct impact on every resident in Brevard County. So really, shopping small is a big deal. Support your community, shop small and help Brevard thrive.”

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