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Shop owners say 'Small Business Saturday' couldn't come at a better time

Small Business Saturday brings in billions of dollars to small businesses each year, and this year that help is needed more than ever

YORK, Pa. — Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is another annual shopping tradition. "Small Business Saturday" was started in 2010 by American Express. It brings in billions of dollars to small businesses every year, but this year, that help is needed more than ever.

Nestled in the heart of Downtown York, Sunrise Soap Company has been going strong for 15 years. 

"We have our retail storefront here that we just expanded," Christina Clarke, the owner, said. "And we expanded next door to another storefront."

On Saturday customers were lining up out the door.

"People were actually waiting outside to pay, and it's quite a gorgeous day to do that," Clarke said.

Clarke admits her store is an anomaly. The COVID-19 pandemic has actually been good for business.

"Now, I want you to think… what do we make? Soap," she said.

The hot item of 2020. But it's been a very different story for many small business owners in the area.

"With a lot of the business down here being closed, it's kind of hard because we don't get the foot traffic that we used to," Nyree Haynes, owner of 1st Capital Kidz Clothing and More said.

Haynes has owned the store for the past four years. 2020 has not been kind.

"It's pretty slow right now," Haynes said. "Of course, we know a lot of people aren't coming out. But, like I said, I'm hopeful that it's going to pick up. Shop Small Saturday is going well, so that's a blessing."

And Haynes has reason to be hopeful. 

Last year shoppers spent $19.6 billion at small businesses across the country on Small Business Saturday. For business owners like Haynes, it couldn't come soon enough. 

"Small Business Saturday really helps us," she said. "Because, of course being small, it's hard due to COVID. So, we're excited when they come out and support us."

According to the National Federation of Independent Business, 1 in 5 small business owners said they'll have to close their doors if economic conditions don't improve soon.

"I'm a fourth generation independent retailer here in York," Whitney Morgan, owner of Collage, said. "So, small businesses are really important to me."

Morgan said it goes beyond helping the individual store owners. According to American Express, 2/3 of every dollar spent at small businesses stays in the local community.

"We all have families, we hire people within the community," Morgan said. My business gives back very generously to the community. So, we really appreciate our customers who shop local."

Since it's first year in 2010, more than $120 billion has been spent at small businesses on Small Business Saturday.

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