Local merchants boast unbeatable products, prices



GENESSE COUNTY — The countdown to Christmas is officially on and for millions that means it’s time to shop!

Local merchants are joining forces once again this year to encourage consumers to shop local this holiday season, especially during Small Business Saturday, which is set for Saturday, Nov. 29.

American Express started this promotion in 2010, and it’s grown bigger every year – up to $5.7 billion in sales last year. The idea is to offer smaller businesses an opportunity to cash in on their own version of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday events that big box stores and online retailers participate in.

There are many advantages of shopping local including better customer service, less crowded shops, specialized items and more. Perhaps best of all, however, is that shopping local means a consumer’s money stays local.

A 2009 study in Civic Economics titled “Thinking Outside the Box: A Report on Independent Merchants and the Local Economy,” reviewed financial data from 15 locally-owned businesses in New Orleans and compared these stores’ impact on the local economy to that of an average Super Target store. The study found that only 16 percent of the money spent at a Super Target stays in the local economy. In contrast, the local retailers returned more than 32 percent of their revenue to the local economy.

Genesee County merchants are gearing up for Small Business Saturday with specials, but more importantly, want to remind consumers of the many advantages to shopping small.

“I think it keeps diversity in business,” said Angela Grogan, owner of Lucy’s Pet Supplies & Feeds in Goodrich. “Smaller businesses can bring more unique items (to a community).”

Now in their eighth year, Grogan said Lucy’s Pet Supplies & Feeds focuses on natural ways to take care of your pets and other animals.

Above all, Grogan said shopping small with her company, means a consumer gets excellent customer service.

“I know the majority of my custom- ers when they walk in the door,” she said. Adding that her staff is extremely knowledgeable about the products they sell, meaning a customer can feel confident they are getting the best product for their particular need.

“We carry what we believe in (and) we educate customers on it,” she said.

Grogan is certainly a fan of the Small Business Saturday initiative, but wants to make sure her customers know, they don’t have to wait for a special day to visit her store.

“Every day we come to work to make sure we do a good job,” she said. She encourages customers to keep shopping local to keep businesses like hers booming.

“I think people would be pretty lonely in their town without small businesses,” added Grogan.

Getting ready to celebrate their 24th anniversary on Wednesday, Dec. 3 is J.J. Cardinal’s Wild Bird & Nature Store in Grand Blanc.

Owner Louise Dawson said her commitment to her business goes far beyond the products she sells.

“I just look at the people who work for me,” she said, adding that throughout their more than 20 years, her store has helped students afford an education, helped mother’s supplement their incomes and more. “It’s a sense of community,” she said.

As the name implies, J.J. Cardinal’s Wild Bird & Nature Store specializes in bird houses, bird feeds, seeds, books, gifts and more.

“We help the community to connect to the natural world, which is good for the soul,” said Dawson. Also good for the soul is the sense of community one feels while in her shop. Dawson said one of the best compliments she ever received was from a former city manager who to told her, J.J. Cardinal’s Wild Bird & Nature Store was the “hub of the community.”

Of course, Dawson does more than ask people to shop local, she does so herself.

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