Locals prep for Small Biz Saturday

Small business is life for Wimberley resident and Dovetails owner Sheri Fowlie.

Having grown up in a family that owned a small business in Maine, Fowlie believes small, local business is the “heartbeat of America.”

As Small Business Saturday (SBS) approaches on Nov. 26,  Fowlie and many others continue extol the virtues of shopping local.

“I have so many loyal customers that shop locally, which is incredible,” Fowlie said. “People say, ‘I don’t’ want to go to big box stores because I don’t get waited on or they don’t suggest things.’ I think small businesses are part of America.”

Sherrie Parks, Dripping Springs Chamber of Commerce executive director, said the public is becoming more aware of shopping local as opposed to larger, “big-box stores.”

SBS was created in 2009 by the American Express company at the height of the recession, according to 2014 article in Forbes. The event, which takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving, helps raise awareness for local businesses across the country.

Parks said the event was a great promotional day to bring attention to shopping small.

“They understand people who own small businesses are neighbors and friends and they want to support each other,” Parks said.

This year, the chamber and the Dripping Springs Lions Club have partnered for the Hill Country Gift Tour, which will be held on SBS.

Parks said social media has a “big impact” for small businesses and trying to raise awareness, whether through Facebook, Twitter or INstagram.

Partnering social media advertising with other advertising avenues, such as newspaper advertising, helps solidify the need to shop local.

“It solidifies in mind the need to go by that store and see what’s new,” Parks said.

Fowlie said one important aspect that may work for small businesses is knowing their customer bases and working to create an identity from that base.

But Fowlie said she avoids trying to compete with the larger retail chains. By finding a specific identity, Fowlie believes small businesses can cater to local crowds.

“We treat people like we would want to be and better when we go into a shop,” Fowlie said. “Because everyone is special and everyone is one of a kind.”

Fowlie said she cannot imagine America without small businesses. But she also understands that small businesses must also change with the times when necessary.

Certain attributes, such as trying on an article of clothing, which cannot be done through online shopping, also helps small businesses, Fowlie said.

Parks said small business has a niche to fill and that people appreciate a level of customer service they may not find at a larger store.

“It’s not that a big box store is bad, but it comes down to customer service and relationship,” Parks said. “People appreciate the customer service and people they do business with.”

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