Small Business Saturday a Hit

Florida Today

by Rick Neale

Melbourne – Jana Parker’s husband owns a small industrial equipment business in their small town of Buffalo Valley, Tennessee.  Fitting, she loves Small Business Saturday – and se celebrated by spending money at shops across downtown Melbourne with her family.

Parker, her daughter Ashley Nebel, and 5-year old granddaughter Aubree Nebel kicked off their Small Business Saturday expedition by purchasing five pairs of flip flops for $203 at The Flop Shop. They’re in town for Thanksgiving week, visiting relatives in Melbourne Beach.

“I think it’s beautiful. And I love that you’re helping local business down here, because that’s what we do in our hometown.  Our hometown’s really, really small. And so we try to help them, too,” Parker said.Hundreds of consumers descended on the New Haven Avenue corridor throughout the day, forming lines at cash registers and crowding the outdoor patios at Matt’s Casbah and The Burger Place. When Amanda Bergman showed up for her 1 p.m. shift as a cashier at The Flop Shop, parking was so scarce that she dropped off her vehicle at a friend’s apartment off Melbourne Avenue.

Small Business Saturday is a growing national movement that’s based on the Black Friday shopping phenomenon, said Christian D Malesic, president and chief executive officer of the Melbourne Regional Chamber of East Central Florida.

“The concept is to get back to your roots, especially since we’ve seen the Internet boom in the recent decade here. So many people are turning towards their computer and buying their gifts from far-away lands, whether that be the state next door or the town next door,” Malesic said.

“The concept of ‘Shop Small’ and Small Business Saturday is, bring that business back home.  Go to your neighbors. Go to your friends. Go to people that are paying taxes in your community, just like you are, who are raising their kids in your neighborhood, just like you are,” he said.

“We want to focus on our local community where we eat, where we sleep, where we work, where we raise our kids. And to remember that our neighbors are running businesses here.  So if we can find the same product or service here that we had considered buying elsewhere, let’s buy local,” he said.

American Express launched Small Business Saturday in 2010. By last fall, an estimated 95 million shoppers participated across the country.

Melbourne Main Street conducted a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony Saturday night near the public sculpture outside the Flatiron Building. The organization also conducted craft-making activities for kids at the Henegar Center for the Arts, horse-drawn carriage rides along New Haven Avenue, and an appearance by Santa Claus.