Promoting local retailers is focus of 'Small Business Saturday'
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Actors posing as elves provide live-action decorations in a shop in Lake Geneva during a past holiday season. Stores are promoting "Small Business Saturday" on Nov. 24 with specials of all kinds. The event was created by American Express in 2010. Terry Mayer photo.
Black Friday is just the beginning, say downtown business owners.
They are gearing up for Small Business Saturday, an event developed by American Express in 2010 to encourage consumers to patronize local businesses.
Together with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday rounds out the traditional kickoff weekend of the holiday shopping season.
And with its dozens of local, independently owned stores, downtown La Crosse is primed for shoppers.
"Downtown La Crosse is unique," said Andrea Poukey, co-owner of Kick shoe store on Second St. "It's more of a destination than the mall area."
Business was slow at the store Wednesday afternoon, but Poukey expects things to pick up Friday after the Rotary Lights parade and into Small Business Saturday.
For the weekend, Poukey is debuting a new cash-back punch card, giving double punches on Friday and giving away a completed card worth $50 to one lucky shopper on Small Business Saturday.
"Small Business Saturday has gotten a lot more hype this year," she said. "I'm hoping for a big impact."
Downtown Main Street has been promoting Small Business Saturday for the past few years, said executive director Tim Kabat, who expects an excellent turnout once again for 2012.
La Crosse's historic trolley will provide free rides from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; shoppers can get on and off at will as it loops through the downtown area.
"It's all part of the experience," Kabat said.
Deals and promotions vary from store to store. Dale's Clothing for Men and Women will offer buy-one-get-one mix-and-match clearance items as well as a raffle for a free pair of jeans.
Gallery La Crosse is planning a 10 percent discount on everything in the store, which owner Ann Peterson describes as a mix between an "artist's co-op and an antique mall."
"We're hoping for a great turnout on Saturday," Peterson said. "People get sick of the mall."