Shoppers encouraged to "shop small" on Small Business Saturday

TULSA - While most people don't start thinking about holiday shopping until after Thanksgiving, small shop owner Amy Adkins starts much sooner.

"We are talking and thinking about Christmas all year long. This is what we are preparing for beginning January 1," said Adkins, who owns the Gadget Company at 15th and Boston.

But competing against the door buster deals offered by the major retailers during the holiday shopping season isn't easy.

"It is very difficult for local retailers to compete with that," said Adkins. "But we have so many other things to offer. We have unique products. We have excellent customer service."

Now, small businesses also have their own retail holiday: Small Business Saturday.

American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010 to encourage more people to support small businesses and to help small retailers boost sales in the same way Black Friday does for big retailers.

It seems to be working.

Last year, about 100 million people shopped at small businesses during the holiday.

Area residents Patty Rule and Jan Sears participated again this year.

"Small businesses are so critical and important to our economy. I think we miss the boat when we don't really support them," said Rule.

Both Rule and Sears said they shop at small businesses on a regular basis.

"They're squeezed between big box and online so anytime you have an opportunity to support an individual, I like to do that," said Sears.

Holiday sales are important for all retailers because the numbers help determine strategy for the upcoming year. But sales are particularly important for small businesses.

"Most small business owners and retailers will tell you that it's anywhere from 35 to 45 percent of their year," said Adkins.

The benefits also extend beyond each individual store's profits.

"Most Americans are employed by a small business and it's just vital to support those smaller retails and your local economies," said Adkins.

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