Shopping local on Small Business Saturday a boost to South Jersey businesses

In 2010, the American Express company created and promoted what we now know as Small Business Saturday.

Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, shoppers are encouraged to “shop local” by patronizing family owned, brick and mortar businesses such as those that line many streets in South Jersey.

Dawn Hunter, executive director of the Greater Vineland Chamber of Commerce, said shopping locally is the “true heart of the American economy.”

“A high percentage, more than 60 percent of money spent locally, stays in the community,” she said. “It’s a huge impact for all local business.”

President/CEO of the Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce, Les Vail, agrees.

“Shopping local puts revenue into the local business owners’ pockets and gives them the opportunity to grow their business and keep money in their own back yard,” he said. “We want ‘shop local’ to be a 12-months-out-of-the-year event. We want you to always think shop local.”

Pamela McErlean, owner of Creekside Trading Post in Alloway, said, by shopping local you’re supporting “someone who lives a mile up the road,” not the CEO of a big-box company.

During the summer, McErlean remembers one day when she gave a vendor her commission check and the vendor began to cry.

“I told her August was a slow month and I was really sorry,” McErlean remembered. “But she said, ‘No, you don’t understand. This $60 will put a lot of food on my table.’ That’s what it’s all about.”

Vail said if shoppers spend just 10 percent of the money they spend during the holiday season at local businesses, approximately $13 million will go into the local economy.

“If you don’t shop local, business owners will fall under,” Vail said. “So we’re encouraging everyone to shop local.”

In Gloucester County, nearly 300 businesses have signed the American Express pledge to shop local.

“We want to thank American Express for coming up with Small Business Saturday,” Vail said. “It’s a good program, and it’s taking off.”

He said many towns are hosting events which also encourage visitors to shop local.

“A lot of towns are having holiday events and tying shop local right into it,” Vail said. “Swedesboro and Pitman are having parades, and Glassboro just opened the Winterland Ice Rink. It’s exciting.”

Hunter said Vineland is holding a Holiday Shopping Spree Giveaway again this year which will award $500 in Chamber Gift Cards to one winner.

“There will be one grand prize winner who receives 10, $50 gift cards to use at any registered Chamber businesses,” she said.

For a list of businesses, visit, and

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