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'Small Business Saturday' planned in St. Helens

SHEDCO coordinates promotions by 11 local businesses

Every year, in a time-honored holiday tradition, millions of Americans come together to jostle and jockey for marked-down merchandise at big-box retailers — or watch the inevitable video footage of their fellow Americans stampeding through superstores on Facebook, YouTube and the nightly news — on “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving.

Businesses in St. Helens are jumping on the bandwagon of an alternative to the Black Friday mayhem: “Small Business Saturday,” a nationwide initiative to encourage people to do their holiday shopping at local businesses on the following day.

Eleven participating businesses, including Jilly’s, Houlton Bakery and Top Notch Thrift Store, are offering discounts on merchandise, food and services or other promotional deals Saturday, Nov. 29.

Small Business Saturday is being organized in St. Helens this year by the St. Helens Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit group that supports economic growth and commerce in the city. The group said the event is “a part of the national Shop Small movement.”

“Shopping at small, local businesses helps strengthen our local economy and puts money directly back into the community,” its press release added.

Liz Esposito, who is the Main Street coordinator for SHEDCO, explained that the event offers a response to Black Friday.

“We wanted to do a similar thing where our participating businesses would offer some kind of sale or promotion to encourage people to come in,” she said.

Some businesses have offered sales and other promotions on the post-Thanksgiving weekend in past years.

Esposito said, “This is just the first time that we’re coordinating and kind of doing it as a Main Street, as a geographic location, rather than each store trying, struggling, to get attention on their own.”

Esposito credited American Express, the credit card company behind the “Shop Small” and Small Business Saturday campaigns, with helping enable “neighborhood organizations like SHEDCO to make the event their own.”

American Express and its partners provide marketing materials and merchandise to help small businesses promote their sales.

Esposito said she wants to see Small Business Saturday become a fixture of St. Helens holiday shopping.

“We’re hoping to grow the event in the future and make it a holiday tradition,” she said.

SHEDCO is also holding a “meet and greet” and raffle at Treasures, Trinkets, & Threads, located at 253 S. 1st Street, St. Helens, at 1 p.m. next Saturday. Esposito described the event as an opportunity for people to learn about SHEDCO and its mission.

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