GREENFIELD — Denna Gundrum has planned this for months.
She organized her fellow small business owners, encouraged them to promote each other and helped brainstorm special offers. She offered up her shop as a welcome center for holiday shoppers. And she acquired about 300 blue and white balloons she’ll inflate Saturday morning and place outside the 31 participating businesses to draw the attention of passers-by.
Gundrum and other entrepreneurs in Greenfield aim to make this year’s Small Business Saturday, which offers special deals, offers, giveaways and raffles to customers from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, the biggest since the event began in 2010. Holiday sales are essential to small businesses ending the year on a high note, and promoting small business is also essential because the money earned stays in the community, she said.
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And so, each year, Small Business Saturday celebrates those entrepreneurs fighting with big-box stores for customers’ holiday shopping dollars.
Independent retailers return more than three times as much money per dollar of sales than chain competitors, according to the American Independent Business Alliance website.
“Everybody needs to make a conscious decision every time they open their billfold or take out their charge card to spend their money where they live,” she said. “If you’re going to spend money anyway, wouldn’t you want it to go right back into the community?”
Indiana boasts more than half a million small businesses, according to the American Express Small Business Saturday website. More than 45 percent of Hoosiers worked for a small business in 2014, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Three local businesses, Penny’s Florist, Ella June’s boutique and Greenfield Chocolates, will serve on Saturday as “welcome centers” for shoppers, where customers can pick up a flier with all of the participating merchants and a “Shop Small” bag with information and treats from area shops, said Shelley Swift, Greenfield Main Street executive director.
Visiting Greenfield’s mom-and-pop shops Saturday is an opportunity to show support for those who have chosen to have their storefronts in the community, Swift said. Making those enterprises successful helps to build downtown Greenfield’s reputation as a tourist destination, she said.
The owner of Penny’s Florist jumped at the opportunity to promote small businesses when American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010, she said.
This year, the participating businesses not only offer a special deal during Saturday’s events but also have coupons or discounts throughout December to encourage people to take their holiday shopping to local entrepreneurs, Swift said. Greenfield Main Street and Hancock Health teamed up to offer a number of events to draw people downtown in December, including screenings of Christmas films at the H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts and weekend carriage rides, Swift said.
Those businesses taking part in this weekend’s efforts have worked to support and promote each other as they prepare for Small Business Saturday, said Greenfield Chocolates owner Jayne Hoadley. They’ve talked each other up to customers and shared and re-shared social media posts to spread the information.
A majority of Greenfield Chocolates’ business is based on holiday gift-giving, with the busiest times beginning with the winter holidays and continuing until Mother’s Day, Hoadley said.
“I always tell my staff, ‘You never know who is going to receive our candies,’” she said.
And every box is its own sales pitch. Those who receive bon-bons and truffles from the chocolatier as a gift often venture into the store on their own later, she said.
Hoadley, a board member for Greenfield Main Street, praised Gundrum’s efforts to expand the Small Business Saturday options.
Downtown Greenfield is growing, and it’s only appropriate to grow the promotion as well, she said.
“With all the different places you can eat and shop, we’re really growing, and it’s a lovely experience,” Hoadley said. “We’ve got a lot of different things to offer.”
Greenfield Main Street, a nonprofit supporting downtown Greenfield businesses, plans five holiday events beginning Nov. 29, including movie screenings for $5 and carriage rides for $10. Rides begin behind the James Whitcomb Riley Boyhood Home and Museum, 250 W. Main St.
1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Nov. 29, screening of “White Christmas” at the H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts, 112 W. Main St.
6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 2, carriage rides
1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 6, screening of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at the H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts, 112 W. Main St.
6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 9, carriage rides
1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 13, screenings of “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts, 112 W. Main St.