Small town merchants welcome alternative to Black Friday

GENESEE COUNTY — Small Business Saturday is an American shopping holiday held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving during one of the busiest shopping periods of the year.

First observed on Nov. 27, 2010, it is a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which feature big box retail and e-commerce stores respectively.

By contrast, Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local.

Around Genesee County, some longstanding, iconic businesses are excited about the idea of having a shopping day dedicated to them and they are hopeful it will be an opportunity to show shoppers what local, mom and pop type businesses have to offer.

“Small business Saturday is an excellent idea,” said Tonya Ketzler, owner of Ketzler’s Florist on Hill Road near Torrey Road in Munday Township.

“I don’t buy things on the internet because they don’t support our police and firefighters, they don’t fix our roads or storm sewers or ditches. Only tax money does that and only local business pays taxes.”

Ketzler said the way she runs the business is not the same way her father ran the business.

“My competition is not the other florists in town,” she said. “My competition is the mass merchandisers.

“The bottom line is, when you tell me your grandma died, and I hold your hand and we cry together, that’s something you don’t get from the big stores. I’ve done weddings for girls, then their baby flowers. And then I’ve done the weddings for those children. And now I’m doing their baby flowers. That’s what we offer, that history. We care at a level that is deeper. We don’t have customers, we have family. Those people are dear to us.”

Timothy Beers, Owner, Laurie’s and Timothy’s Children’s Wear in Grand Blanc said his is one of the last family owned businesses in Grand Blanc celebrating its 49th anniversary.

“We’ve totally redone the store,” he said. “Grand Blanc customers are pretty nice people,” Beers added.

Laurie’s and Timothy’s was founded by his mother Lourice “Laurie” Salem- Beers, the iconic “classy Lady of Grand Blanc.”

“Mom was a business woman for generations — it’s what she had always done. Beers said the store specializes in high-end fashion for children and the boutique is internationally known for christening and communion wear.

Customer satisfaction and a closer relationship with customers is another aspect of small businesses.

If a Shumaker boot fits, wear it out. If not, you can return it to Shumaker’s Ski Shop for repair or replacement.

That kind of customer-service guarantee has kept the family-owned business at Ballenger Highway and Miller Road in business since 1947 and holding its own against Internet and big box competitors.

“You’re not always going to do everything right, but you can try to make it right,” said Tony Shumaker, company vice president and the third generation to work in the store which was started as a mom and pop sporting goods shop by his grandparents Carl and Geraldine.

His dad, Tom, was 12 when he convinced his parents to get into the ski equipment business, circa 1959.

Shumaker’s now has two locations but the Ballenger Highway store is the flagship store.

“It’s a tough fight to stay in business, we have to offer something different to the customer, give them a family feeling,’’ Shumaker said.

Repeat business is a must for survival, he said.

“We have knowledgeable sales people on the floor who actually participate in the sport and have a passion for the business,’‘he said.

Shumaker’s will be closed Thanksgiving Day but is opening at 8 a.m. Friday for a 14-hour sale to kick off its best-selling sales period of the year.

Due to the nature of the business, the gift-giving season and the skiing season coincide, he said. — View Staff

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