Small Business Saturday highlights local shops

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Small business owners around the country opened up their shops Saturday, Nov. 24, for Small Business Saturday. Beginning in 2010, the credit and finance company American Express began sponsoring an event that helped small business owners the day after Black Friday.

Co-owner of the Lucky Rabbit in Downtown Hattiesburg Brandon Thaxton said the shop has participated in every Small Business Saturday since opening the store five years ago. He said the day was a success with more than 3,000 customers coming in for Black Friday and another 3,000 on Small Business Saturday.

“[Small Business Saturday] doesn’t fall on our usual weekend, so a lot of people aren’t really sure if we are open,” Thaxton said. “[For] a regular off-weekend, it was definitely a success.”

The Lucky Rabbit opens only four days out of the week each month, but they always open their doors for both Black Friday and Small Business Saturday to great success, according to Thaxton.

“The main goal [for the Lucky Rabbit] each month is to provide a different experience from the month before,” Thaxton said. “Even though we are only open 36 hours a month, we are here working pretty much every day.”

T-Bones Records and Café manager Mik Davis said he has seen a trend toward small business support over the past few years despite the growing popularity of online shopping outlets.

“[Small businesses] take care of you and everything in the store,” Davis said. “I honestly think that [online shopping] won’t last because the shopping experience has been taken away from you.”

Davis said the individual attention small businesses can achieve will always outperform big companies, and online retail stores and many shops in Hattiesburg buy locally because of this. He said they embrace the shop local movement 365 days a year.

“You spend your dollar here, and we spend your dollar in roughly six different places that are local,” Davis said. “We try to honor as much of the local businesses as we can help to facilitate [them].”

Davis said the growth of the internet has made local shopping easier with GPS and review services.

Owner of Southern Fried Comics Barry Herring said the event is a good business day and helps bring new customers into the storefront. Though his store is closing after eight years of business, Herring still participated in the shopping day.

“It is a good day to point out small businesses and support them,” Herring said. “Black Friday is the big to-do for large stores. [Small stores] get Saturday when everyone is out of money.”

Herring said Small Business Saturday is a great idea and has good intentions. He said that Small Business Saturday takes little planning for him. He does what he does every day, but having American Express sponsor the day helps with advertising and other logistics.

“Crazy stories come from free comic book day,” Herring said. “[Small Business Saturday] is just a good day and a ‘Let’s do it again next year’ kind of thing.”