Raleigh, N.C. — Local shopkeepers greeted their guests Saturday with cookies, complimentary gift wrap and an alternative to the Black Friday craziness and crowds. Small business owners in the Triangle and beyond emphasize the personal touch in hopes of attracting some of the billions to be spent this holiday season.
"Things have gotten too impersonal. We want to have more of that personal contact," said jeweler Russel Brumitt. At his shop, ORA Designs in Raleigh's Lafayette Village, Brumitt offered special discounts on "Small Business Saturday."
He and other Lafayette Village shop owners participated in the national phenomenon, now in its third year, designed to encourage people to patronize locally-owned stores. According to Shop Local Raleigh, about half the money spent at locally-owned businesses stays in the community, compared to about 13 percent of that spent at a national chain.
"It's difficult, especially in this economy, and there is a lot of competition," Brumitt said. "I think people are being really cautious in this economy."
Elsewhere in Lafayette Village, Bob Jones of Savory Spice Shop, has worked for both the big and the small. He and his wife started the shop after his corporate job was outsourced.
"Running a small business is different from being a salaried employee in the corporate world," Jones said.
Customer Garrett Butulis clearly got the message. "We have all of these wonderful stores, these local stores that are supporting the local economy, and I think that's a really important thing to do," he said.
Jones and Brumitt hope that attitude spreads beyond just one day to create return customers. Many local businesses offer loyalty programs that reward frequent shoppers with special discounts and services.