Dave Campbell at Campbell's Morrell Music in downtown Johnson City. (Photo by Lee Talbert/Press Photo Editor)
While millions of people across the country fight and claw for deals on consumer electronics at global chain stores, local business owners hope nearby residents will keep them in mind when holiday shopping.
On Small Business Saturday, a companion shopping holiday to Black Friday and Cyber Monday started in 2010 by American Express, merchants throughout the Tri-Cities area will open their doors to demonstrate the benefits of shopping locally.
“We’re here, we’ve got everything on display, people can come and try things out and our employees can help them find what they need,” said Dave Campbell, owner of Campbell’s Morrell Music on Johnson City’s West Market Street. “It’s that personal experience that I don’t really think you can get at one of the big chains.”
Brandon Davis of Mahoney’s Outfitters said a trained and knowledgeable sales staff can sometimes help in more serious ways than just having a pleasant shopping experience.
“The buy button on an online shopping site is very easy to use when you’re getting a straightforward product, like when you’re trying to decide if you want the 16GB or the 32GB iPad,” Davis said. “But if you’re looking for the right cold-weather jacket or a climbing harness, you definitely want the hands-on experience. We may not always win in the price competition, but we more than make up for it in the customer experience.”
Both local merchants commended the philosophy behind Small Business Saturday: to highlight the retailers who work and live locally.
“It’s extremely important to us to get ourselves out there and let people know we’re here,” Campbell said. “We don’t really have the advertising budgets that the larger stores do, so we can’t afford to get our names on every channel on television. If we get together for something like this and encourage people to just think about their local businesses, it will benefit all of us.”
Small businesses are also an important part of local economies, Davis said, because the money generated by sales stays in the community instead of going to a company headquartered out of state.
“We try to look at is as we’re supporting the community that supports us,” he said. “All of the dollars you spend with us are spent back here, but they’re lost instantaneously when you’re supporting a big box habit.”
Around the holidays, Campbell said a major part of his business comes from beginners, relatives buying instruments for their children as gifts or individuals hoping to take up a musical hobby.
“I guess it just seems like a good time to start learning,” he said.
But without the resources of national and global chains, majorly discounted items in stores and online can seriously cut into sales.
“There’s been a bigger push to buy local in the past few years, especially since Small Business Saturday started,” Campbell said. “That’s why it’s important for us to get people into the mindset of supporting local businesses.”
For more information about Small Business Saturday, visit http://amex.co/RCrYfV.