Gloucester County small businesses aim to keep Black Friday shoppers local

"This local push is going to be great," said Ed Munin, owner of the Frame Shop.
"This local push is going to be great," said Ed Munin, owner of the Frame Shop. (SHARON GEKOSKI-KIMMEL / Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 23, 2012

For at least one day, Ed Munin wants his three-employee store to compete with Michaels Stores, the arts and crafts chain that dominates his industry. With the help of Gloucester County, he hopes to do that Saturday.

Knowing many shoppers will flock to big retail stores such as Target and Walmart on Black Friday, county government in August mounted a 12-week campaign with the Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce, Atlantic City Electric, and PSE&G to encourage people to shop locally on Saturday in an effort to keep money in the local economy.

That amounts to free advertising for people like Munin, owner of the Frame Shop in Glassboro.

"This is great for local businesses. When it comes to competing marketing-wise and advertising-wise with big stores and big-box stores, they crush the little local business guy," said Munin, who has owned the Frame Shop, home of the $19.99 frame, for three years.

As of Tuesday, nearly 200 Gloucester businesses planned to participate in the county's first "shop local" event.

Burlington and Camden Counties have previously launched similar efforts, as have business districts regionally.

Gloucester County and the chamber have advertised through fliers and posters, by meeting with businesses in various towns, and through social media.

The counties are following a nationwide campaign sponsored by American Express, which three years ago launched Small Business Saturday to provide cardholders with incentives to shop at local businesses the day after Black Friday. Cardholders who register receive a $25 credit for spending $25 at a qualifying business listed on its website.

More than 100 million people shopped on Small Business Saturday last year, said David Dickson, eastern Pennsylvania district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Businesses should have ample opportunity this year as well: As many as 147 million people are expected to shop in stores or online this weekend, according to the National Retail Federation.

And of the people aware of Saturday's event, 67 percent planned to patronize small businesses, up from 44 percent who did so last year, according to a survey released Monday by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Small businesses could really benefit if they translate the boost from the one-day event into long-term local spending.

"From analyzing Black Friday for many years, there are a lot of consumers who don't shop on Black Friday. That, coupled with interest in supporting the community, would seem to be a real win-win" for small businesses, said Carol Kaufman-Scarborough, a professor of marketing at the Rutgers-Camden School of Business who studies retailing and consumer behavior.

County sponsorship may make the event more appealing to residents, she said. "It has a positive implication that there's support for local merchants as well."

Gloucester County residents spend an average of $720 on holiday shopping, said Les Vail, president and chief executive of the Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce. If they spent 10 percent more of that money locally, that would add about $13 million to the local economy, he said.

And the county has plenty of small businesses to choose from: Of the 14,000 businesses in Gloucester, 85 percent have fewer than 20 employees, Vail said.

Camden County jumped on the Small Business Saturday bandwagon at the start three years ago. In Haddonfield, Gary Coleman, owner of the British Chip Shop restaurant and the English Gardener Gift Shop on Kings Highway, said sales were up 25 percent on Small Business Saturday last year over the previous year. He would be happy with a 10 percent uptick in sales this year, he said.

In Philadelphia, one civic group plans a so-called cash mob, a flash mob spin-off in which consumers decide to flood a certain business. Johanna Daye, a Philadelphia-area real estate agent, organized the cash mob for Jahaya's, a bath and skin-care shop on Germantown Avenue. She hopes to get 20 people to attend, though she's invited more than 1,000 via Facebook. Each person is asked to spend at least $20 at the shop.

In Gloucester County, Munin hopes to get his first taste of Saturday-after-Thanksgiving stimulus this week. He's offering a "buy three, get one free" special.

"This local push is going to be great; it's going to bring in people who might be afraid to come in or don't even know we're here," he said.


Contact Andrew Seidman at 856-779-3846, aseidman@phillynews.com, or follow @AndrewSeidman on Twitter.

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