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Small businesses compete with online sales, big box retailers

Posted at 10:29 PM, Nov 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-24 23:29:51-05

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — It's the busiest time of the year for retailers as they try to compete for your holiday dollars.

With online sales continuing to soak up more of the market with almost anything a click of the mouse away, how are local mom-and-pop stores competing?

Many small business owners said being unique and providing something the others cannot is key.

“I don't think we actually compete with Amazon,” said John Lucas, owner of The General Store and Co. in downtown Overland Park. "We're more about the experience of coming in and touching and feeling the product."

Besides, there is a still a market for brick-and-mortar operations.

"Not everyone orders online," said Trish Goodfriend, owner of Teal Lotus. "I know it feels that way, but not everybody is comfortable doing that."

The proof was in the pudding this weekend as shoppers came out in droves to downtown Overland Park for Small Business Saturday.

“I love the support that we get, because it takes small businesses to keep a community healthy,” Goodfriend said.

For shoppers, it's a way to escape and discover some unique items. 

“It's definitely fun to shop the genuine small guys that's for sure," Jeff Johnson said. "It's more interesting and there's more variety and there's a personal touch."

According to the National Retail Federation, 55 percent of shoppers will buy online or at a department store, while just 23 percent of consumers will shop at local or small businesses this holiday season.

On Small Business Saturday, an estimated 67 million shoppers were expected to hit the stores with 78 percent of those shoppers saying they did so specifically to support small businesses.

“We came out because they provide us with a unique opportunity to find something that's local that we can give back to our community and we know that we are getting something unique for our friends," Emilie Kenworthy said.

But shoppers also noted how easy shopping online has become.

“It's definitely convenient and great for some things, but you can't find a lot of the good, local personal things,” Johnson said.

For some, that's a priority.

“We do the best we can to shop as local as we can but sometimes when you just can't find that thing, you gotta go somewhere else," Kenworthy said. "But mostly I would say about 60 percent of our shopping is local."

Being different is the best way for small businesses to compete.

“We try to curate the product into unique finds that you can't necessarily get anywhere," Lucas said. "We try to stay away from what you would find in a big box, a little more local unique items."

Local flair still has its appeal.

"It's like walking through different countries and, so to get that experience, you have to come in and I'll make your visit here as warm and wonderful as I can,” Goodfriend said.

With consumer confidence also sky high this year, holiday sales are expected to increase by more than 4 percent.