Niles celebrates small business with Shop Small Saturday

Published 7:10 am Monday, December 2, 2013

This Saturday, billions of shoppers across the United States supported locally owned businesses as part of Shop Small Saturday. Small businesses in Niles thanked the community for their support by doing what they do every day: by giving back to it.

While they were doing their holiday shopping, community members were given the opportunity to drop off non-perishable food items or cash donations to benefit the Ferry Street Resource Center. For every three non-perishable items or $5 donation, shoppers were given a ticket to enter a drawing for a large flat-screen television.

Shopkeepers in the downtown area saw more customers than usual. Al Casperson, owner of A Casperson Books, located 113 N. 3rd Street in Niles, said he saw about double the amount of customers as a normal Saturday.

“Small towns are basically the heart of the area, and (Shop Small Saturday) enables people in this day and age to do shopping closer to where they live than having to travel to the malls and big cities that take so much time, especially at this time of year when time is so precious,” he said.

This day and age, as Casperson refers to it, is much different than the environment Casperson’s father, Ralph, built his shop in over 40 years ago. Al Casperson has tried to stay true to the “old bookstore feel” since he moved the bookshop from its original location on Niles-Buchanan Road to the downtown location three and half years ago.

“I don’t carry new books. I carry books generally that are out of print, old news, rare, older paper items that you can’t find anywhere,” he said. “When you go into a Barnes and Noble, people know exactly what they want. When they come in my shop, they’re looking at possibly a subject area, but they find things that are well out of print that they didn’t know existed. It’s kind of like a treasure chest.”

Most businesses participating in Small Business Saturday provided special deals to celebrate and draw customers in. Casperson offered gift certificates for 50 percent off, and Veni’s Sweet Shop in Niles gave out free chocolate Santas for every $10 spent.

Kierra Fillwock, a part-time employee at Veni’s said that business was much busier than usual at the candy store Saturday. Fillwock attributed the spike in business traffic to Shop Small Saturday, but also to the beginning of the holiday season.

“I think events like Small Business Saturday are really important to keep these businesses in the downtown open. A lot of businesses in Niles open for a couple of months or so and don’t make it because nobody shops at them. Events like this get people into the businesses to see what they have to offer,” said Fillwock. “I think more events like this would do Niles good.”