MIAMI (CBS4) — Small business owners in South Florida hoped to reel in holiday shoppers by promoting the second annual Small Business Saturday.
Florida joined more than a dozen other U.S. cities including New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia in promoting small businesses. The initiative was first announced in 2010 by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault. It is intended to encourage shoppers to patronize independent local businesses.
Coral Gables' Miracle Mile went all out to promote Small Business Saturday, offering specials and discounts and held special events. Plus, consumers who used AMEX got a $25 statement rebate.
Wolfe Wine Shoppe owner, Jeffrey Wolfe, offered free wine tastings to encourage holiday shoppers to pass through his doors. It worked for Linda Glass.
"I bought wonderful wines, two for myself and two for good friends," said Glass.
Local fashion designer Rene Ruiz appreciated the push.
"I'm a small business here in Coral Gables for like 20 years now and all the support we can get is really crucial," he told CBS4's Natalia Zea.
Ruiz also said his work beats any department store around.
"The quality of service and the craftmanship you get in a place like my business you couldn't get anywhere."
Better service brought Rocky Egusquiza to Gables pet boutique Dog Bar instead of one of the big box stores, even though it's pricier.
"When you shop local and you shop at the same places regularly you have a rapport with the store, they know what you like," said Egusquiza, "You're paying a little extra for that service."
Mary Koehak and David Perlmutter shopped at local bookstores like Books and Books.
"Locally owned bookstores are more receptive to the requests of their consumers as opposed to Barnes and Noble or a big chain," said Perlmutter.
Koehak added, "It's something to support because it's a dying art."
Small business owners are also quick to point out, from manufacturing to retail, they keep South Florida's economy moving.
"I have a staff of 36 people that work here fulltime and I employ people in our community," said Ruiz.
"Small businesses fuel the economy....keeping it small is keeping it real," said Wolfe.
Small businesses have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years and employ just over half of all private sector employees, according to the Small Business Administration, according to the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce.
The commerce was tapped by AMEX to take the lead in promoting small business.
"We are proud to have the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce join the Small Business Saturday Coalition," said Maryann Fitzmaurice, senior vice-president, American Express OPEN. "It is critical that we get as many supporters on board as possible to generate demand for small, independently owned businesses this holiday season and beyond."
Mayor Jim Cason was in attendance to present a formal proclamation declaring Saturday as Small Business Saturday in Coral Gables.
Social media also played a central role in helping raise awareness about the importance of supporting small business and recognizing Small Business Saturday. The Small Business Saturday Coalition promoted the day to consumers and business owners via their Facebook page.
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