Shop Small in Richmond County Makes Big Sense

— Written By and last updated by Leeann Crump

American Express created the Shop Small Saturday national holiday in 2010, the last Saturday after Thanksgiving. Projections for Shop Small Saturday 2015 are for $14.5 billion to be spent, with Americans spending more than $800 on average, and much of it with small businesses.

More than one million tweets are expected to appear on Twitter that day, thanks to an aggressive social media campaign distributed by the personal finance company. Each year, the small business sales and Twitter activity have grown steadily.

The National Retail Federation reports that holiday sales on average have grown 2.9 percent over the past 10 years and are expected to represent roughly 19.2 percent of the retail industry’s annual sales of $3.2 trillion. Big-box stores, e-commerce and small businesses are all reaching for their piece of the shopping pie with promotions for Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Not to take away from the importance of the larger stores and online sales in our local economy, but making a decision to support small business with holiday shopping could make a greater impact in Richmond County.

According to the Andersonville Study of Retail Economics, local business generates 70 percent more local economic activity per square foot than big-box retail business. The Environmental Protection Agency also suggests that shopping local cuts down pollution by 50 percent by reducing processing, packaging and transportation waste.

Supporting our small, independently owned businesses this holiday season helps individual entrepreneurs survive and our downtowns and small communities thrive.

Seeking out small businesses may not be as convenient as driving to the shopping mall out of town, but consider making a conscious effort to spend a portion of your holiday shopping dollars with small businesses in Richmond County. Shop Small Saturday is being promoted all over the county and especially in downtown Rockingham, where the businesses are offering specials and deals.

The event begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28 and the Shop Small Saturday headquarters will be located at Pattan’s Downtown Grille, 228 E. Washington St. in Rockingham. At the headquarters, shoppers will be treated to free coffee, a list of the specials and deals, free muslin shopping bags, buttons, crowns for the kids and bandanas for any canine shoppers.

All of the promotional materials have been supplied free of charge to the Rockingham Downtown Corporation as part of the American Express campaign.

Some of the businesses participating are: Arts Richmond (several different artists will be selling their art), Big K Propane, Discovery Place Kids, Helms Jewelers, Henry’s Uptown Café, Hillside Florist, Pattan’s Downtown Grille, Rocking Trends Consignment, Rockingham Fitness Center, Rockingham Hardware, Sandhills Pharmacy and Willow Tree Antiques and Gifts.

The Rockingham Downtown Corporation is sponsoring this activity locally and encouraging shoppers to snap a selfie with the purchases they find that day and post using the handle #ShopSmallRockingham on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. The best use of Shop Small in a selfie will be recognized at the RDC Annual Meeting on Jan. 19.

Do your part to support local businesses by shopping small this Saturday! For more information, contact Susan Kelly, Richmond County Cooperative Extension, 910-997-8255 or

Susan Kelly is Richmond County’s cooperative extension director and president of the Rockingham Downtown Corporation.