Shopping News: Small Business Saturday Critical as Local Merchants Hope to Make Up for Sales Lost to the Pandemic

By CYNTHIA YANG, Weekendr Staff Writer
Published on Nov 28, 2020

Small Business Saturday, a national initiative asking consumers to shop local and take a break from big box stores, has become a top-selling day for many local retailers, and this year it couldn’t be more important for many.

“Anything that encourages some way to shop in their local community during the holidays or after,” said Pasadena Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Paul Little, “is certainly welcome and we are very robustly supportive of all those.”

Developed and promoted by American Express, Small Business Saturday is a great way for local Amex cardholders and shoppers in general to support that local business that may be just around the corner.

Fred Hill, owner of the Whistle Stop model train store and hobby shop, sees the promotion as a boost to his business in East Pasadena. Hill and Brian Brooks have owned the Original Whistle Stop since 1983.

HIll and Brooks carry on a legacy begun in 1951 by Ed and Irene Hakkinen. Irene ran the small shop for many years while Ed worked at the Pasadena Post Office. Hill became a stock clerk for the store, fulfilling a childhood dream, before going a step further and actually owning the store.

According to Hill, AMEX customers earn extra points for purchases on Saturday.

“So any person that has an American Express card, it behooves them to use that card on that day,” said Hill.  “They get extra credits, and things like that. [Store owners] don’t have to do anything. We just have to process the card. That’s what makes it so nice is that the purchaser is earning the points and credits. The merchant just gets to make the transaction and help the person.”

And in these pandemic days of course, everything helps.

According to the American Express website, the company created Small Business Saturday® during the 2010 recession, to be held, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to “Shop Small” and bring more holiday shopping to small businesses.

The U.S. Senate passed a resolution to honor the event in 2011, which is now held in all 50 states. In addition, according to American Express, in an effort to support their local communities, organizations across the country sign up to serve as Neighborhood Champions. These supporters bring their community together with events and activities on Small Business Saturday and throughout the year.

Later that year, business associations, nonprofit trade groups, municipalities, and public officials began to unite, to form a Small Business Saturday Coalition to encourage everyone to Shop Small.

Pasadena’s own Old Pasadena Management District is a “Neighborhood Champion” in the year-long effort.

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