Lynn Carroll, owner of The Country Pedlar in Mentor, and Greg, her husband, often find their weakest holiday sales numbers on Black Friday and the couple of days that follow.

Lynn Carroll, owner of The Country Pedlar in Mentor, and Greg, her husband, often find their weakest holiday sales numbers on Black Friday and the couple of days that follow.

The reason, as Greg explained, is because consumers every Black Friday weekend are busy finding deals on big-ticket electronics and are too exhausted to visit local small businesses.

This year might be the turning point for The couple's gift shop at 8627 Mentor Ave.

The couple said they noticed a bump in sales Saturday -- 25 percent to 30 percent -- compared to the same day last year. The couple, who has owned the business for 17 years, cited Small Business Saturday's growing advertising campaign as the cause.

"We've had people come in here and say, 'We're here because of Small Business Saturday,'" Lynn said.

"We've never heard people say that before."

Saturday was the fourth annual Small Business Saturday, a nationwide counterpart to Black Friday founded by American Express.

People who registered their American Express card in the week leading to Small Business Saturday received a $10 credit when they made a purchase of $10 or more at a business that accepts American Express.

The Country Pedlar was one of dozens of small businesses listed under American Express' directory of where consumers could earn their $10 credit.

Not every small business involved in Saturday's holiday shopping event was eligible for the $10 credit.

Like other small-business retailers, Anne Marie Wolfe, owner of Geauga Music Center in Chardon, uses a device called Square to administer electronic transactions.

The small, white peripheral, which attaches to a smart phone or tablet, accepts American Express cards along with other cards, but it doesn't generate the credit.

Wolfe reminded many followers this week on her store's Facebook page of Small Business Saturday. In addition to offering her own deals on select items, Wolfe hosted a Holiday Shopping Showcase between 2 and 5 p.m., for four local artisans and businesses to share some of her retail space at 215 Cherry St.

Wolfe, who has owned the music center for seven years, said she's hosted the showcase event twice before in early November, but this time she wanted the event to work in conjunction with Small Business Saturday.

Lori Weber, owner of Sirius Alpacas, was one of the merchants at the showcase event.

Her farm in Chardon Township looks after anywhere between eight and 26 alpacas. She sells the fur to the Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America in exchange for selling Alpaca-made socks, snow caps and other products, ranging in price from $13 to $27.

"I used to think anyone who spent anything more than five bucks on socks was insane, and then I bought a pair," Weber said.

"It's incredible. ... Now I will completely rearrange my outfit so they match my socks."

Chamber of Commerce groups also are enjoying the momentum of Small Business Saturday.

Kevin Malecek, president of the Mentor Area Chamber of Commerce, said his organization partnered with the city of Mentor's Buy Local campaign, and purchased and donated radio ad space in early November to member small businesses to promote local holiday shopping.

New this year, his chamber partnered with the Madison-Perry and Painesville Area Chamber of Commerce to host "Small Business Month" between the beginning of November and the last two weeks of December.

All last month, the three chambers organized a "street team" to send thank-you baskets to about 75 small businesses in the area, Malecek said.

He said supporting small businesses means more than just supporting local jobs.

"They are the fabric that holds the community together because of the products and services they offer," Malecek said.

2013 The News-Herald (Willoughby, Ohio)

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