Cleveland shops find niche in shopping weekend

Cleveland shops find niche in shopping weekend

November 27th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Nancy Casson, left, waits on customers Ann and Leah Mumford Slowiak on Saturday at The Red Ribbon in Cleveland.

Photo by Randall Higgins /Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday came Shop Small Saturday.

It was the second annual national push to introduce shoppers to their local small businesses.

Ann Slowiak was in The Red Ribbon in downtown Cleveland on Saturday, shopping with daughter-in-law Leah Mumford Slowiak.

"I want an ornament everywhere I go," said Ann Slowiak, of Memphis. She found what she was looking for, a Christmas ornament uniquely reflecting Cleveland.

Jackie Rumble and daughter Sarah Beth Brown were next in line at the gift shop operated by Nancy and Flavis Casson. They were in the shop for an Elf on the Shelf. The elves are children's toys that report to Santa Claus on who's naughty and who's nice before Christmas.

The Red Ribbon is an established name at a new address on Inman Street. It is one of the shops that ring the city's new park, First Street Square. Since January a half dozen businesses have started at or moved to the square.

"I have noticed people making a point of shopping locally," said Charles Nelson. His store, Trailhead Bicycle Co., is on First Street.

His 6-year-old company just reopened following extensive renovations.

"We had reached the point where we needed to grow a little more," Nelson said.

Next door at Hyderhangout, a fabric shop, some women were beginning a class Saturday.

"Could I have gone somewhere else? Yes," said Terri Ford, who lives in Ocoee, Tenn., by way of Chicago and New York. She wanted to learn more about quilting. "This is such a wonderful venue."

This year's Shop Small Saturday, promoted nationally by American Express, won endorsements from a long list of corporations and politicians, all of them named on the Shop Small website.

Tennessee endorsed the idea, too.

In 2010 the Tennessee General Assembly created the Office of the Small Business Advocate as part of the state comptroller's office. The advocate's primary job is to help businesses with 50 or fewer employees deal with government agencies, particularly state agencies.

Small businesses are the backbone of local and state economies, said Tennessee Small Business Advocate Lauren Plunk in her media statement.

"I hope Small Business Saturday will encourage people to think about where they shop," she said.