Shoppers encouraged to shop locally on Small Business Saturday

It’s all about the sales on the days after Thanksgiving, but downtown La Crosse store owners said there’s a lot more to Small Business Saturday than just the price tag.

The sunshine on downtown La Crosse Saturday made the stained glass sold at Vision Of Light look even more attractive to those walking by the window. Offering unique and handmade items like stained glass is just one of the ways artist and owner of Vision of Light Penny Fassler said small businesses like hers set themselves apart from the big box stores.

“It’s that personal touch,” Fassler said. “I think that we have more service, of course, because it’s small so you can ask questions and kind of hear a little bit about the things and as you see it’s not so busy that you get lost in the shuffle.”

But beyond the friendly service, shoppers buying local are investing in their local neighborhoods as well.

“All of my money stays in the area, any profit that I have. I own the building, I pay taxes, I shop locally myself,” Fassler said.

“Small businesses support their community more, they put their money back into the community,” Robin Moses, executive director of Downtown Mainstreet Inc., said.

Moses said for every dollar spent at a local store, nearly 70 cents of that dollar stays in the community.

“When you do that at a larger store, it’s (a) much less amount and when you buy online, it’s zero,” Moses said.

Small Business Saturday has only been around since 2010, but businesses are noticing plenty more shoppers coming to downtown because of it.

“I think people are seeing that it’s more of a, not so much of a hunt for the good deal as a just come out and have fun and look for things you don’t see in the big box stores and all the national chains,” Mark Flottmeyer, associate clerk at Kromer True Value Hardware, said.

“I thank them for coming in,” Fassler said.

Vision of Light Stained Glass has been open in downtown La Crosse for about decade. Fassler said part of that is thanks to the relationships she has built over those years with her customers. She hopes she, and all businesses in downtown, can build a few new ones on Small Business Saturday, so together shoppers and businesses can continue improving their community.

“I look forward to it, definitely, every year,” Fassler said.

Fassler said she had a few customers in yesterday that told her they were avoiding the big box stores on Black Friday.

If shoppers couldn’t make it downtown this weekend, don’t worry, many local businesses will also be offering deals through the rest of the holiday season.             

Since Small Business Saturday began in 2010, the promotion has brought big sales to small employers.

The Better Business Bureau reported more than $14 billion were spent at locally-owned retailers nationwide last year.