SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - A new campaign is underway to boost sales for South Mississippi's small businesses on the biggest shopping weekend of the year. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the focus is on big box retailers and Internet sales. But Small Business Saturday is all about the mom and pop stores. The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce is teaching small business owners to make the most of their big day.
Since popcorn sales tend to heat up in the winter time, this year business owner Rachel Schmitt decided Popcorn Plus would start offering gift tins. She's hoping Small Business Saturday will lure more customers her way.
"I think the small business people are who make up the community and the ones who are often overlooked during that critical weekend after Thanksgiving," said Schmitt.
Although Small Business Saturday is not new. It was actually introduced by American Express in 2010.
"The fact that we are trying to rally the community around this concept is what's new," said Rachael Seymour of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce. "This is to get everybody excited and geared up. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become engrained in our brains as opportunities to get the best deals of the season and we want our small business Saturday to have that same feel. Shop in your small businesses."
The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce is giving out promotion items, advertising for businesses through social media and giving added support to owners needing advice on how to make a success of this critical time of the year.
"This is a make it our break it time for all of our businesses," said Seymour. "They call Black Friday Black Friday because the retail industry goes into the black. From the red to the black. So we know this is where they make their money."
Schmitt appreciates the added support in preparing for Small Business Saturday. "You can ask questions about how it relates specifically to your business and how it's going to relate to your community whereas American Express is trying to get the word out about their program which is great but we want to know how it's going to affect us right here."
Small business owner Monica Benjamin runs a Christian book store on Pass Road in Gulfport. She said Covenantt Christian and other shops don't have the advertising budgets that big box retail stores do, they want to get the message out that shopping with them is investing in the community.
"Our motivation is mostly bringing more life to our communities and putting back the moneys that we do earn back into the community," said Benjamin. "Where most big businesses take it abroad and do what they want to do but ours is to give it back to the community. That's what we want them to know. We want to give back."
The chamber will also run contest on social media where shoppers who take selfies in small stores will be eligible to win prizes.