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“We've had four or five new retail establishments open during the past six months. Our downtown community is really growing," says Susan Upton, founder and owner of Lolo Boutique on the North Harbor strip.
Upton opened her shop in 2009—specializing in one-of-a-kind, U.S.-made clothing and gifts—and was thrilled to learn about Small Business Saturday®, which was started by American Express in 2010 to encourage shoppers to visit local small businesses. With the help of the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce, she and other area small businesses now participate in Small Business Saturday each year.
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Last year, the Chamber created a passport program where local small businesses are listed as participating in the holiday and customers can get their passports stamped every time they walk into a store.
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“You don't need to buy, you can just come in and get a stamp," she says of the program. “Then, they turn in the passport to the Chamber and the Chamber gives away prizes. It is happening again this year."
In addition to participating in the passport program, Upton creates a festive, event-style atmosphere at Lolo Boutique on Small Business Saturday every year. “Last year was a little chilly so we provided holiday doughnuts and hot cider. Our customers were so appreciative," she says, adding that discounts and free gift wrapping were also offered.
[pullquote showtweet="false" username="susan_upton" alignment="center"]I've had customers walk in the door and say, 'I'm here today to shop because it is Small Business Saturday® and I want to support my local businesses.'[/pullquote]
She's found that customers love Small Business Saturday so much that they ask in advance what Lolo Boutique will be doing for the holiday—and mention that they came in specifically for Small Business Saturday when they walk through the door on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
[image-with-info caption="bottom-left" source="Amanda Friedman" alignment="full-width" imageurl="https://d8a8a12b527478184df8-1fd282026c3ff4ae711d11ecc95a1d47.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com//us/small-business/openforum/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/open-forum_lolo-boutique_susan-upton_1920x1080_0190.jpg"]Susan Upton, owner, Lolo Boutique[/image-with-info]
“The more they see those of us participating, the more they will come in to ask if we are doing it again this year," she says. “I've had customers walk in the door and say, 'I'm here today to shop because it is Small Business Saturday and I want to support my local businesses.'"
[ugc slug="after-completing-a-transaction-walk-the-customers-purchase-around-the-counter-presenting-it-to-her-with-a-heartfelt-thank-you-and-showing-that-she-is-your-first-and-only-pr" alignment="right"]After completing a transaction, walk the customer’s purchase around the counter presenting it to her with a heartfelt “thank you."[/ugc]
While the holiday inspires excitement among the community, it also can help influence sales.
If you're a small-business owner thinking about participating in Small Business Saturday this year, Upton offers one big suggestion.
“Don't be afraid, just sign up," she says, adding that all it takes is putting a sign on your door. You can take the holiday at your own pace and do anything from showcasing marketing material in your shop window to hosting a lively event and promoting it on all of your social media channels—it's up to you.