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Small Business Saturday: There’s something for you


Between Big Box retailers and online merchants rests the small “mom-and-pop” stores — although they’re seldom at rest.

Small Business Saturday — Shop small! — comes this weekend but by no means does that mean you can’t shop small all year.

The boost for small, local stores helps shoppers — see the product, feel the product, try on the product, carry it home — as well as the local merchants, who are either your neighbors, employ your neighbors or contribute to local causes. (Try getting a “silent auction” donation from an online-only store or at an out-of-town mall.)

Small Business Saturday originated in Boston (Hub of the Universe) where Mayor Thomas Menino first promoted local merchants at the Roslindale Village Main Street. The roots go back to 2010.

Boston Globe writer Lawrence Harmon wrote about that revitalized shopping area as if it were an “ecosystem” — residents and shoppers interacting, busy restaurants supplying nutrients and possessing its own energy source, which were the Main Street volunteers. Is it different in Nederland or Port Neches or in pockets of Port Arthur, where fearless entrepreneurs seek neighborhood and foot traffic to boost their sales?

Small Business Saturday is linked to Christmas — it falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving — but that doesn’t mean it can’t mean any Saturday.

“It’s important to shop local and obviously shopping small is extremely important,” said Amy Van Pelt, owner of Gaudie & Co., 1143 Boston Ave., Nederland. “Small businesses are the heart of the community.”

“In today’s society everything is quicker and easier and people tend to search the internet while at work, shop on Amazon and Google and tend to forget the mom-and-pop stores are the heart and soul of the community,” said Paige Snyder, membership director for the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce. “They’re the entrepreneurs. They’re the individuals who dream big in hopes of making a success.”

More than that, they are the merchants most in touch with their communities and local customers. Need an example? Try the small merchants at the Museum of the Gulf Coast’s bookstore. There, customers can buy T-shirts that evoke the spirit and symbols of now defunct area high schools, like TJ and Abraham Lincoln and Bishop Byrne and Austin. Think you can buy those in Dallas or New Orleans?

It’s much the same with other small retailers in Greater Port Arthur and Mid County.

Saturday is an important day for those “mom-and-pops,” places that largely depend upon the holiday season to push into the profit zone. They’re not seeking your charity; they’re seeking a chance to show what they have.

Area shoppers would do well to try them out Saturday — or any day — explore sales racks and peruse shelves. They have something for you, but you have to go to find it.