Local shops buzzing during Small Business Saturday
Pewaukee shops seeing record high profits despite nationwide drop-off

By Matt Masterson - Freeman Staff

Dec. 2, 2014

 A painted bench on Wisconsin Avenue in Pewaukee shows a scene of that street. Merchants in Pewaukee reported strong sales on Small Business Saturday.
Freeman file photo


PEWAUKEE - Shoppers spent as much as 10 percent less during Small Business Saturday according to a national survey, but some businesses around Waukesha County were still reporting record profits.

Some 88 million people shopped at small businesses the Saturday after Thanksgiving, up nearly 15 percent from last year, according to a survey released by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business, which questioned 2,682 people on Sunday.  

The average shopper spent $162 at small businesses Saturday, down 11.5 percent from 2013. That drop was in line with the National Retail Federation’s estimate of an 11 percent decline in spending at retailers of all sizes during the holiday weekend.

Despite the gloomy outlook, a pair of local shops saw some of their highest profits of the year - even more than past Small Business Saturdays.

“(It was a) record-setting day,” said Jackie Schoenholtz, owner of Silly Willyz in Pewaukee. “It was great.”

The “good, old-fashioned neighborhood toy store,” which has been open less than a year, had sales on both Friday and Saturday and also compiled a coupon book with other local businesses that was given to customers.

Schoenholtz said everyone who came into her store mentioned Small Business Saturday.

“We are very supportive, and a lot of people mentioned that they want to continue shopping small,” she said. “I would say overall, not only did we have a good day, but everybody really was supportive and on board with the movement.”

The Small Business Saturday program is designed to draw attention to small companies and increase their revenue year-round, not just during the holidays. AmEx, one of the sponsors of the program, offered its cardholders a credit of up to $30 on their statements if they spent $10 or more at three separate small businesses on Saturday. The consumers questioned in the survey were not limited to AmEx cardholders, said Scott Krugman, an AmEx spokesman.  

Social media helped increase awareness of the Small Business Saturday program, AmEx and the NFIB said. On Twitter, more than 126,000 tweets were sent about the day on Saturday, up 10 percent from last year.

One local business owner who took advantage of social media was Susie Bower of End of the Leash.

Her all-natural pet supply company used promos on Facebook to help draw attention to her Pewaukee store and her new location in Mukwonago.

She said the store - which offers more than 35 varieties of all-natural foods and raw frozen diets - saw higher profits this year than in 2013.

“We have a point of sale system, so it tracks to the dollar all of our sales and how they compare to the same day last year, and over our sales for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, we are way increased over last year,” said Bower.

www.americanexpress.com

www.nfib.com

www.sillywillyz.com

www.endoftheleash.com

Contributing: The Associated Press

Email: mmasterson@conleynet.com