Shopping small reaps big benefits for MV businesses

November 26, 2018

MOUNT VERNON — Shoppers came out in droves on Saturday afternoon, but this time, they weren’t headed to the big-name stores.

On Small Business Saturday, Julia Rowland of Alger went to Kids Stuff instead of Toys R Us and Jeff Silzer of Mount Vernon chose Lyon’s Furniture and Sleep Center over IKEA.

“It feels good knowing our money is supporting people just like us,” Rowland said. “I try to buy all my toys at Kids Stuff and Sprouts Clothing next door.”

Small Business Saturday was founded in 2010 by American Express when small businesses were hurting from the nation’s recession.

The Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce participated in the movement that year. A year later, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution in support of the day.

Since then, the Shop Small movement has continued to grow, with Americans spending an estimated $85 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday alone, according to American Express’ Shop Small website.

This year, 36 small businesses in Mount Vernon participated, each sporting a navy blue Shop Small sticker in its window.

Business was booming on Saturday afternoon, with many store owners reporting years of success despite the popularity of online shopping and the presence of national retail stores.

Al Lyon, owner of Lyon’s Furniture, attributed his store’s good fortune to its outstanding service.

“We do everything but make the bed and set the table,” he said.

Tri-Dee Arts owner Summer Houlihan said while she feels pressure from big stores, she knows her business offers things customers won’t find by shopping at large retailers.

“It’s very easy to click a mouse to make a purchase, but people are making gifts here. They’re making connections,” she said while gesturing at her business, which incorporates both retail shopping and hands-on pottery painting.

“It’s a throwback to how things used to be.”

In the pottery section at Tri-Dee Arts, Mount Vernon resident Cynthia Hosick, 73, and her two granddaughters continued their tradition of painting together. The three have been meeting nearly every week to paint for the past three years.

“I like being on the outskirts of teenage life and getting to spend time with them doing something we all enjoy,” Hosick said as she put the finishing touches on her lizard.

Others also expressed the unique experience of supporting small, local businesses.

Kathryn Tellesbo, a fourth-generation Mount Vernon resident and owner of Dilly Dally Antiques, said she thinks shopping small gives people a warm, happy feeling.

“I feel a sense of pride in having a store in Mount Vernon,” she said. “I’ve been participating in Small Business Saturday since it started.”

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