Houston shoppers buy local, support new tradition


It's a new shopping trend called "Small Business Saturday" -- a day dedicated to local businesses. They may not have the big deals that the big box stores offer, but supporters say shopping locally helps boost the local economy.

On a rainy day like Saturday, it was a good thing shopping is an indoor sport.

At Lot 8 in Rice Village, the cash register was still ringing Saturday night.

Many consumers were choosing to forego the big box stores and malls, opting instead to support small businesses.

Think of it as the polar opposite of the Black Friday frenzy.

"Everybody's having a good time. [They are] at ease. Not a lot of pressure," Alexis Kidd at Jubilee said.

Small Business Saturday was launched last year, ironically by American Express. The idea? To encourage consumers to throw their money behind small, local businesses. It even received an endorsement from President Barack Obama who called it "a way to keep our local economies strong."

"I love the idea that they're focusing on that," Cassandra Martin said.

Martin runs Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade shop in Rice Village that helps promote artisan women around the world.

Her neighbor, Jody Wheeless, runs The Village Firefly where everything is handcrafted and made in America. So, buying from Wheeless not only benefits her, it helps the Texas artists she's trying to support.

"This is their livelihood. These are professional crafters that do this for a living. [They are] not hobby businesses," Wheeless said.

About 89 million consumers are expected to shop small this weekend. Financial services attorney Dave Taylor says fueling the economy from the bottom up is one of the best ways to climb out of a sluggish downturn.

"It's so difficult to get money just in the door to expand your business or hire someone new. A key shopping day like this can allow a small business to expand or just to meet the needs that they've had where they simply haven't had the money," Taylor said.

So now, squeezed between Black Friday and Cyber Monday you'll have a new alternative, which shopper Demetria Murphy says is exactly what she needed this year.

"Right now I'm looking for one-of-a-kind items, [and this is the] best place to look for [them]," she said.

In its inaugural year last year, Small Business Saturday helped pull in 28 percent more sales than the Saturday in 2009, when there was no such thing as Small Business Saturday.

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