Popping up for Small Business Saturday

According to the Laramie Main Street Alliance, for every $1 spent shopping in downtown Laramie, $2 is reinvested in the community. Small Business Saturday is one way Main Street and the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance help boost local sales and community reinvestment, Main Street Executive Director Trey Sherwood said.

Photos courtesy of Brian Harrington of BHP Imaging

In its fourth year, Laramie’s Small Business Saturday is growing larger by attracting smaller businesses, Laramie Main Street Alliance Communications Director Jessica Brauer said.

While more than 60 established businesses are slated to participate in the event Saturday, Brauer said about 20 pop-up businesses were scheduled to set up shop around downtown as well.

“A pop-up business is an opportunity for an artist or a maker or somebody new in their business to pop up in a location and sell their product,” she said. “The pop-ups are providing opportunities for these entrepreneurs who are just starting out. It gives them the experience of selling during a big event and creates an environment where they can build the connections they need to start a business here or partner with an existing business.”

Promoting pop-ups gets to the root of the event, which was started by a credit card company to funnel sales back to local outlets, Brauer said.

“It all goes back to 2010, when American Express started Small Business Saturday,” Brauer said. “They wanted to drive business back to the small businesses during the recession. (Main Street) got involved a few years ago, and it’s become this holiday shopping tradition for all of us to come together and cheer for the small businesses that make Laramie what it is.”

According to the American Chamber of Commerce, local businesses are 250 percent more likely to donate to the community than large corporations, and since the event’s inception, $15 billion has been raised nationwide during the event for local businesses and communities, Main Street Executive Director Trey Sherwood says in a news release.

“The Shop Small movement helps residents connect to entrepreneurs as neighbors and friends, Sherwood says.

“When you know the face behind the name, you’re less likely to spend your hard-earned money online or in another community.”

With the help of Bank of the West, Brauer said Laramie’s Small Business Saturday would host more spaces than ever before for the pop-up businesses, which include a dog-treat maker, artists and jewelry makers among others.

To prepare for the event, Main Street teams with the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance and the radio station My Hits 106 to start planning in the summer.

As the holidays near, Brauer said businesses get more involved by registering their promotions with the Small Business Saturday committee, which can found at www.shopsmalllaramie.com, and hanging banners in their storefronts to designate the store as an event participant.

In addition to business promotions ranging from discounted prices to buy one, get one free, the event will kick off with a free breakfast provided at the First Street Plaza at 8 a.m. and attendees will be joined by the University of Wyoming mascot Pistol Pete at 9 a.m.

Historically, Main Street has increased efforts to include businesses from all across Laramie, but Brauer said the majority of participants are still downtown businesses.

For some businesses, the event is a record-breaking sales day, but Brauer said sales aren’t the only benefit participants receive.

“There’s a lot of factors that play into whether it’s a good weekend for sales or a bad weekend, and we can’t control most of those factors,” she said. “It’s not necessarily a day where there will be record-breaking sales for everyone, but it will always be a great day for exposure and giving local businesses the chance to interact with their prospective customers.”

Holiday shopping might be the primary theme, but the event isn’t exclusive to retailers. Several downtown restaurants, bars and spas are slated to participate as well as a few gyms around Laramie.

As the event winds down, Brauer said shoppers can return to the First Street Plaza for hot cocoa and Christmas carols around the bonfire starting at 5 p.m.

“I think for us, the major mission of the day is to come out rally around our small business community,” she said.

Go to www.shopsmalllaramie.com for more information or call Sherwood at 760-3355.

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