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updated: 11/27/2013 11:29 AM

Suburban retailers set for Small Business Saturday

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  • Jennifer Vanacora, owner of Eco Diva Clothing, plans special promotions for Small Business Saturday this weekend.

       Jennifer Vanacora, owner of Eco Diva Clothing, plans special promotions for Small Business Saturday this weekend.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Jennifer Vanacora, owner of Eco Diva Clothing, plans special promotions for Small Business Saturday this weekend.

       Jennifer Vanacora, owner of Eco Diva Clothing, plans special promotions for Small Business Saturday this weekend.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Jennifer Vanacora, owner of Eco Diva Clothing, at her store in Arlington Heights.

       Jennifer Vanacora, owner of Eco Diva Clothing, at her store in Arlington Heights.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Eco Diva Clothing in downtown Arlington Heights will participate in Small Business Saturday, a special promotional day to highlight small, local companies.

       Eco Diva Clothing in downtown Arlington Heights will participate in Small Business Saturday, a special promotional day to highlight small, local companies.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Jeff Shapiro of Real Urban BBQ in Vernon Hills and Highland Park says he'll offer 10 percent off every meal this Saturday to patrons who say "I love Vernon HIlls" or "I love Highland Park" and use their American Express cards.

      Jeff Shapiro of Real Urban BBQ in Vernon Hills and Highland Park says he'll offer 10 percent off every meal this Saturday to patrons who say "I love Vernon HIlls" or "I love Highland Park" and use their American Express cards.
    Provided photo

 
 

Eco Diva Clothing, a small boutique in downtown Arlington Heights, opened in September to focus on environmentally friendly products, natural fibers and sustainable practices.

Now, it aims to drive holiday traffic through its doors, like other small retailers, while participating in the nationwide event this weekend, Small Business Saturday.

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"I'm happy to get more people to know that we're here," said store owner Jennifer Vanacora of Palatine. "If I can increase foot traffic and offer the 20 percent discount to sell more merchandise, it will definitely be worth it."

Many small retailers, like Eco Diva, will offer special sales, promotions, raffles, extended hours or other incentives to bring consumers into their doors this Saturday. After all, those small stores are the backbone of many communities, helping to drive tax revenues and support the community, business leaders said.

"This is a national movement that's still in its infancy," said Jim Platt, director of business development at the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. "But we hope that the village and the chamber can coordinate this to make it a more concerted effort with all of these independent shop owners."

About three years ago, American Express launched the Small Business Saturday event nationwide to help get consumers in the doors of local small retailers during the heaviest shopping time of the year, when other retailers heavily market Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The American Express-hosted Facebook page for Small Business Saturday already has logged about 3,2 million fans and continues to grow.

Jeff Shapiro, owner of Real Urban BBQ in Highland Park and Vernon Hills, participated in the event in previous years. This year, he'll offer 10 percent off every meal for those customers who say "I love Vernon Hills" or "I love Highland Park" and use their American Express credit cards.

"We have such a great social media following that we thought we would try this and hope to get people to come in," Shapiro said.

Small Business Saturday is a golden opportunity for members to boost traffic with in-store events and to tie it in with social media, said Carol Levin, a spokeswoman for the GLMV Chamber of Commerce in Libertyville.

The GLMV Chamber and Mundelein Community Connection are sponsoring a new promotional campaign called "Where in Mundelein is Santa?" Consumers who find Santa and special holiday decorated boxes at participating local businesses can enter raffles and win great prizes. Raffle drawings will be held Saturday. Dec. 14 at a Santa's Cottage event in Mundelein, Levin said.

The Elgin Area Chamber also is encouraging small businesses to employ local residents, which can help neighborhoods prosper, said president and CEO Carol K. Gieske.

The Elgin Chamber provided kits to members that can be used to invent, reward and celebrate their after-Thanksgiving traffic on Small Business Saturday, Gieske said.

Shopping locally is a way to insure that small towns and small businesses thrive, said Jean Gaines, executive director of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce.

"I'm sure many people don't understand the importance of this support so a massive nationwide campaign like Small Business Saturday helps spread the word and makes one aware of the benefits," Gaines said.

The event also puts the focus on Main Street USA and all the unique, independent businesses that make up the fabric of many towns, said Suzanne Corr, president of the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce.

"The greater Barrington area is particularly known for its eclectic collection of small businesses, and setting aside a special day to recognize the character they bring to the community and the region is well worthwhile."

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