State College is joining a national initiative to encourage people to take advantage of their local small businesses.
Mayor Elizabeth Goreham says the State College Borough has seen a “renewed enthusiasm” for supporting area entrepreneurs in the past few years, so it only makes sense to encourage people to shop small.
“Small and local businesses keep money in the local economy,” Goreham says. “If you shop at Walmart, that money doesn't stay local. It goes wherever Walmart wants it to go.”
That’s why Goreham has officially proclaimed this Saturday, November 29, to be “Small Business Saturday” in State College. That matches up with the national Small Business Saturday initiative started in 2010 by American Express to encourage people to support their local economy.
The Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County also supports the initiative.
“It’s important to recognize the tremendous value of our small businesses,” CBICC Communications Director Lesley Kistner says. “They’re really the backbone of our economy.”
She says the statistics are clear: there are over 23 million small businesses across the country, representing two-thirds of new jobs and nearly half of the United States’ gross domestic product.
State College is especially lucky to have such a robust selection of small businesses, Kistner says. They range from specialty gift shops to restaurants and family-owned farms.
“These businesses go a long way to create a vibrant downtown and enhance the overall quality of life in our community,” Kistner says.
At its annual business expo last week, the CBICC promoted Small Business Saturday and handed out “shop small” gift cards for local businesses. The CBICC has also coordinated with the State College Downtown Improvement District, which has also been promoting Small Business Saturday.
Downtown Improvement District Executive Director George Arnold says his organization has been promoting the initiative on social media, encouraging people to visit State College’s many small businesses.
Arnold has also been helping promote specific specials that some local businesses are having to celebrate Small Business Saturday.
Clothing shop Sercy will offer 20 percent off all clothes, A Step Beyond Massage Therapy will offer 10 percent off massages, McLanahan’s will offer 15 percent off all Penn State merchandise, and the Atherton Hotel will provide a free $25 gift card with every purchase of a $100 gift card.
The Hotel State College – which includes the Corner Room, the Allen Street Grill, Zeno’s, Pickles, Indigo and Chumley’s – will also take part in American Express’ promotion, in which American Express users can get up to $30 back when they shop at participating small businesses.
“Local businesses are the lifeblood of the community,” Arnold says. “When you support a local business, you’re investing in the community.”