By Alex Maltezos,
Owner of Tenni-Moc's Shoe Store on Spring St.
Imagine it now. School is out for the Thanksgiving holiday, and all you have to do is prep the veggies for a full day of cooking, roast the bird, and enjoy the feast with your loved ones. And afterwards, you still have three whole days of cozy leftovers and hanging out with the family. But wait… why are you ditching the kids and your couch early Friday am to fight over a $20 TV? Or why are you taking time from your workday to shop “Cyber Monday” sales? Let me paint a picture of the Black Friday weekend as it started before the takeover by large corporations and targeted marketing. Business owners opened late to sleep off the turkey (that’s where the term “Black” Friday comes into play – as in, the store windows are still black). Folks are HOME with their children, leaving them with the happy memories of board games, decorating for Christmas, baking cookies and sweets. Sometime in the early afternoon, the small business owners and family swing by to open up the store and share the goodies and stories with neighbors and friends, closing up a little late to accommodate the lingerers but content because they get to go home peacefully and enjoy leftovers. This is the type of Black Friday my grandpa described to me, alas not the Black Friday I was raised with, and most definitely not the Black Friday that exists today. The commercials would have us believe that those supposedly discounted products and flash sales are worth sacrificing your family time and the family time of all those salespeople. Really? Or is the convenience of binge buying on Cyber Monday truly worth the hit to our city - and to your neighbors - the small business owners who pay taxes and sponsor the PTA? Our small business started closing on Black Friday in 2011. On the Saturday following Black Friday, we could do a decent business, mainly because it was the first Saturday to buy Christmas presents. When American Express started developing “Shop Small Business Saturday,” I jumped and I jumped high. FINALLY, finally some assistance from a business that can afford it! Most small businesses that survived the 2008 recession were so hard-hit, they were left with EVEN fewer resources to evolve for today’s market. We had to rely on our know-how and customer service, something lost in the big warehouse stores. American Express’s #shopsmall movement gave us a feeling of unity, no longer were we small business owners alone and unhe
ard. American Express provided marketing materials with smart and innovative ideas that could bring in customers during a weekend we had all come to dread, business-wise. They advertised for us! They reminded the consumer that WE, small businesses, matter; that we are not forgotten. #Shopsmall lit a fire in me, it made me strive to post, print, and utilize everything American Express gave me. When customers realized how much that day meant to me, and us, they hopped onboard. Small Business Saturday has become a day of warmth and community. After I was appointed “Small Business Champion” of our neighborhood last year, I was buzzing with excitement to give #shopsmall kits to all of my small business owner peers. When met with, “What am I supposed to do with all this?” I advised: Use it! Be a part of something! American Express offered us a gift and our customers are starting to get it! They improve and expand their marketing every year, evolving in response to consumer taste, so why wouldn’t you take advantage of it? This movement means a lot to me. It has led to a potential resurgence in independent business, entrepreneurship, and local economy. #Shopsmall brings hope, progress, and excitement for the holiday shopping season. I will keep pushing and supporting and LOVING Small Business Saturday because it represents community, it represents us. We enforce those bonds on Small Business Saturday by shopping and spreading much needed economy to our neighbors. This Small Business Saturday, November 30, be sure to support your neighbors and community. Shop small business in Long Beach! 908