To encourage shoppers to visit small businesses, American Express offers cardholders a $25 statement credit for spending $25 or more in a single transaction at a qualifying small business.
Jeff Weiss, owner of Learning Express in Woodstock, has participated since 2010.
“Last year, it was a really good thing for us. It’s a great thing that American Express is doing,” he said.
Weiss said his store’s attentive staff provides a level of service not available at big-box stores, making for a better holiday shopping experience.
“The staff knows how to play the games, what games are best for different ages and genders,” he said. The store also offers services including free gift wrapping and free personalization.
Overall, Weiss is expecting strong sales during the holidays.
“It’s off to a pretty good start. We expect things to build into Black Friday and beyond,” he said.
Several Cherokee County businesses are offering additional deals Saturday in conjunction with the American Express offer.
Lisa Welty, co-owner of Woodstock Market with Karen Bennett, said the market will offer 20 percent off storewide for Small Business Saturday.
“We have 100 different individual dealers…that’s why we’re so into Small Business Saturday. We feel like we have 100 small businesses here,” Welty said.
Woodstock Market offers new and consignment furniture, home décor, antiques and vintage items and handcrafted items.
“We have people that can paint what you’re looking at a specific color or reupholster things for you. It’s a little more individually tailored,” she said.
The city of Woodstock is pitching in to make downtown shopping even more enticing. Anyone who shops at a downtown retail store or restaurant today or Saturday can bring their receipt to the Woodstock Visitors Center for a chance to win a $100 Downtown Dollars gift certificate.
“This year, we’re making a bigger push for Small Business Saturday. A lot of our merchants did see a big increase in business that Saturday,” Kyle Bennett with the Woodstock Downtown Development Authority said.
Bennett said the national and local marketing of Small Business Saturday has helped small businesses have a day to stand out when it comes to holiday shopping instead of being lost among national chains advertising for Black Friday.
Every $10 spent downtown gives a shopper one entry in the drawing for the Downtown Dollars gift certificate. The visitors center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Receipts must be shown at the visitors center on Friday or Saturday for the drawing.
Good shopper turnout during last year’s holiday season has Woodstock merchants looking forward to another good year.
“A lot of stores told us last year was the best Christmas since the housing market collapsed. I think they’re very excited to continue that upward trend,” Bennett said.
Doug Key, owner of Key’s Jewelry in Canton, said he isn’t signed up with American Express to participate, but he’s hoping to have a good weekend of sales.
“Usually the weekend after Thanksgiving is not too big due to everybody staying up all night to shop, but we’ve got a promotion this year where we’re giving away iPads, TVs and Kindles with a certain purchase. We’re anxious to see if that makes a difference,” he said. The promotion runs through Christmas Eve.
For American Express cardholders, enroll your card by visiting www.shopsmall.com before midnight Saturday to be eligible for the $25 credit. A list of qualifying small businesses is available on the website.