“Small Business Saturday” helps keep money in the Quad Cities, compared to shopping at chain stores

VILLAGE OF EAST DAVENPORT, Iowa-- Saturday afternoon in the village, big crowds packed locally-owned shops for Small Business Saturday. It's a day encouraging shoppers to visit stores in their own neighborhood: proving a small change in your shopping habits can make a big difference in your community.

Kim Wessel, owner of the furniture store "Calla," has been participating in the event since it started in 2010. She's owned her shop for 15 years and has spent 10 in the Village.

"We close Black Friday," Wessel explained. "There's no reason for us to stay open that day, so we pretty much gear our whole focus to Small Business Saturday."

95% of all Quad City businesses employ less than 50 workers, making them "small."

"We love that people think about their local businesses," Wessel said.

The Small Business Administration says that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 stays in the local economy. When the same amount is spent at a big chain store, only $43 stays local.

"With all the online businesses and the big stores, it's very helpful to see this kind of local support," Tom Lagomarcino, owner of the namesake chocolate shop, explained. He's felt that support for decades; his business has been in the family for more than 100 years, since 1908.

"We really think small businesses are the fabric of the community," he added.

It's the simple things, like a smile and some small talk, that set small businesses like Lagomarcino's apart.

"You walk into this store and we know people by their first name," he said. "We've waited on those people for generations."

As Thanksgiving week comes to an end, business owners are thankful for their customers, "because if they don't come in, we're not here," Lagomarcino said.

Small Business Saturday falls each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. American Express started the event in 2010, and it's grown bigger and bigger ever since. In 2016, 112 million shoppers participated, up 13% from the year before. The Small Business Administration expects that number to grow once again this year.