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Baton Rouge shoppers slow to embrace Small Business Saturday

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POSTED: Monday, November 19, 2012 - 9:30pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 1:48pm

Small businesses want you to ignore all the temptations of Black Friday. They say you should wait and support neighborhood companies 24 hours later, on Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday was started by American Express three years ago, and the company claims more than 100 million people took part in 2011.

But the trend has not totally caught on in Baton Rouge.

"I'm starting to do more online, and then usually at the outlet mall, or the mall," said Kathryn Ponder. "You don't have to fight the crowds, and some of things that I want I can only get online."

To compete with online retailers and big box stores, lots of small businesses offer discounts the day after Black Friday, while others roll out new products.

Bill Lovejoy, owner of Earthly Concerns, believes Toms shoes will be one of his biggest sellers this season.

"I think we got about 400 pair of shoes in for the special holiday collection, and we're featuring them," he said.

The period from Thanksgiving to Christmas is just as important for small shops as it is for national chains.

"Three-and-a-half times a regular month would be crammed into one month of business," Lovejoy said

But some of the busiest places on Small Business Saturday are restaurants. After two days of cooking and turkey, many people want a break by the time Saturday arrives, and local restaurants do not want to be left out.

"We have signs all out in front of Perkins Road," said Jeverly Aizprua of Bushwood BBQ Sandwiches. "When you're driving by, you see all of our signs and stuff like that."

Small business owners say their shops will not be as crowded as a big box store, and they offer better customer service than a website.

"And you can pick it up and touch it," Lovejoy said of the items in his store. "If it's a candle, you can smell it. So believe me, there's a huge advantage to coming into here, rather than going to the internet."

But shoppers say there's only one thing they want to touch: cash.

"They have to basically beat the big malls and stuff," said Joseph Kelly, "because those places offer pretty good deals, you know?"

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