Business owners in Sterling, Rock Falls and Dixon are working together to expand on the "Small Business Saturday" concept.
The day got started two years ago when American Express offered cardholders $25 credits if they used their cards on the Saturday after Thanksgiving at a small business. However, business owners in Sauk Valley say one day a year is not enough.
Saturday marked the first of what will be many "Sauk Valley Shop Small Saturdays." The idea is to promote the benefits of shopping at small businesses several times a year, but it doesn't end there. The new campaign is also promoting cultural events, like artists and musicians who often partner with these small businesses.
"Both small business and cultural events, musicians and artists, really help to define the character of any community," said organizer and small business owner, Lisa Higby LhFevre.
Higby LhFevre owns "Distinctive Gardens" in Dixon. She says while the November "Small Business Saturday" was a success, it got her and others thinking about what they could do to change the way people shop and entertain themselves year round.
"This whole thing is kind of a learning process. We are trying new things and tweaking and figuring out what works and what doesn't work."
Trein's Jewelry in downtown Dixon knows all about that. The shop celebrated 130 years at this weekends promotional event.
"You can lay back and take what the economy gives us or you can be proactive and grab a hold of it and do well," said Trein's Jewelry Co-Owner, Linda Brantley.
Brantley says that's exactly what this new campaign is doing. Business owner Larry Dunphy agrees. His store, "Books on First", was very busy Saturday and he expected it to be equally busy later that night with a live musician there. He says it's all part of the cultural cross promotion.
"It's good for business and we think we add to the community. There are more and more people doing live entertainment in downtown Dixon," he said.
Higby LhFevre says she hopes this campaign will continue to bring in more and more people, giving local businesses and the entire area a boost.
"When your supporting a small business in your neighborhood it will revitalize that neighborhood," she said.
There will be another "Sauk Valley Shop Small Saturday" on May 4th and August 3rd. There are buttons for the events available at participating businesses. If you wear a button many stores will give you a special deal or gift.
For more information check out the links below: