Small shops hope for surge from locals during holiday gift season

Owners say Small Business Saturday is thriving

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Amber Kovac celebrates Christmas with her in-laws a week before the holiday. That means the Prairie Village woman must shop early. When she is looking for the perfect present, she doesn’t turn to the internet. She drives to stores like A Store Named Stuff in Brookside.

“Just to see what is local, and often I find a lot cooler stuff than I would on Amazon,” Kovac admitted.

Amazon, a veritable e-commerce giant, broke online sales records this “Prime Day,” a summer-time holiday it invented for subscribing customers. And, this season, millions of consumers will buy Christmas gifts from the online retailer.

But small business owners like the ones in Brookside said shoppers haven’t abandoned mom and pop-style brick and mortar shops during the holidays. Trends like Small Business Saturday have helped. 

“It's been great that the public has jumped onto that, and they tend to really support it. We see nice traffic that day. We see people talking about it and change the conversation of Thanksgiving weekend,” explained Casey Simmons, who owns and operates A Store Named Stuff with her sister.

She explained stores like theirs offer things an online shopper can’t get. An experience, an item with a local connection, and the ability to walk away with a purchase in hand. 

Simmons admits there is a need for big retailers and doesn’t expect people not to shop on Black Friday. In 2010, American Express created Small Business Saturday to encourage people to shop locally the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Simmons she said that proves big retailers need the small shops too.

“The big guy saw why we are so important and placed a value system on that,” Simmons explained. “It helped level the playing field just a little bit. One day a year is good. I would like to go for more.”

Kovac makes sure the small businesses she loves get her attention all year round. 

“I think how you spend your money is a big part of how you can influence what you want the world to be like,” she said.

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