Downtown Aiken stores prepare for 'Small Business Saturday' boost

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News 12 at 11 o'clock / Friday, Nov. 23, 2012

AIKEN, S.C. -- Forget the Black Friday stampede. In Aiken, Small Business Saturday is the trend.

"A lot of people will tell us, 'I'm buying all my Christmas presents downtown Aiken, and I'm not going out of town or I'm not shopping online,'" said Sallye Rich, the co-owner of 3 Monkeys in downtown Aiken.

Her business sells holiday decorations and even some clothes and other items. Business was already booming at 3 Monkeys downtown Friday afternoon.

"Aiken is so supportive of downtown. We know we have a jewel. There are very few towns our size that have a downtown as active as we do," Rich said.

Hundreds wandered through other shops downtown, too, and there are plenty of good deals to go around.

"We are going to do 20 percent off all of our Christmas items," said Rich, adding that some other items are 50 percent off.

At Lionel Smith, Ltd., across the street, each additional item bought will be an additional 10 percent off for up to five items.

"We really try to concentrate on this time. We really try to make sure everything is right," said Van Smith, the owner of the store that sells men's clothing and suits.

Smith says it's so important to get cash flowing this time of year. They do about 20 percent of their business in this quarter, and for a lot of businesses in Aiken, that percentage is even bigger.

"It's probably getting close to 50 percent of our yearly sales will come in this fourth quarter," Rich said.

"60 percent of my business runs through this quarter," said Mary O'Hare, who owns M.B. Jewelry And Beads.

O'Hare spent Friday afternoon setting up a display outside her storefront, which includes fake snow and a snowman that blast out more fake snow. She's says it's all part of attracting shoppers to her bead and jewelry store.

"You know, you can come downtown with a $20 bill, and you can get a very nice gift for someone, and you can even have lunch all out of that $20. And guess what, you get change back," she said.

O'Hare says besides the boost to business, the community gets a shot in the arm. Sixty-eight cents of every dollar stays right here in this community.

Karen Mills, administrator of the Small Business Administration, says about 100 million people shopped locally on Small Business Saturday last year. They hope to see that number go up even more this year.

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