Small Business Saturday will promote shopping locally for holiday season and beyond


Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

A table of games in Bookends and Beginnings. Store owner Nina Barrett said the shop is planning to open some of the games for people to play at Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30.

Maia Spoto, Reporter

For Small Business Saturday, customers should think about how they can “vote with their dollars,” said Nina Barrett, owner of Bookends & Beginnings.

“Shopping locally… is like a present that you can give to your community, in addition to the presents you’re giving to individual people,” Barrett said.

To kick off the holiday season on Small Business Saturday, coming up Nov. 30, customers will receive “shopping passports” guiding them to local businesses in Evanston, such as Bookends & Beginnings. After spending $100 at participating locations, customers can redeem their passports for a tote bag with prizes. Barrett’s independent bookstore engages with both the city-wide initiative and with a separate national Small Business Saturday, led by the American Booksellers Association.

On Nov. 30, children’s book author Sydni Gregg will begin the event at Bookends & Beginnings with a storytime at 10:30 a.m.. Betsy Bird, an Evanston Public Library staff member and children’s book blogger, will run a table at the bookstore in the afternoon. In the evening, Bookends & Beginnings will offer festive food and drinks.

“For 15 years, I’ve known how to get kids engaged with picture books,” Bird said. “Now I have my own picture book, and you had better believe your kids are going to be engaged when I present it because I’m going to pull out all the stops.”

According to the 2012 Andersonville Study of Retail Economics, $68 of every $100 spent at local businesses remains in the Chicago community. For every $100 spent at chain companies, only $48 remains in the Chicago community.

Annie Coakley, the executive director of Downtown Evanston, said more people are choosing to shop online for convenience. With Small Business Saturday, she said she hopes people will spend locally.

“Keeping the dollars here… keeps the stores open, which is a large reason why people move here in the first place,” Coakley said. ”When I talk to residents downtown, they say, ‘Oh, I just love all the shops and restaurants.’ Well, if you don’t shop in them, they’re not going to stick around… they need to be supported.”

Barrett said the holiday season is about personal connections. She said chain shopping takes the mystery and excitement out of gift-giving. But Barrett said shopping at Bookends & Beginnings is an enjoyable and social process — holiday shopping as it was intended to be. She said her employees are always ready to make conversation and offer personal gift recommendations in a way that virtual algorithms cannot.

Barrett thinks a lot of people worry about the concentrated money and power of online retail giants, but making an effort to shop locally could help transfer some of this authority back to Evanston.

“Ask yourself: Is that something you want to be contributing more data, more money, more support to, when that is support that you could be giving to your local businesses, to strengthen your local community?” Barrett said.

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