Small Business Saturday 2022: How Memphis businesses are preparing – Commercial Appeal

Big River Market owner and operator Nick Barbian is constantly learning about the ups and downs that come with being a small business owner.

In July, Barbian opened his self-described “pandemic project” food store at 516 Tennessee St. in the Emerge Building Downtown. Big River Market offers coffee, frozen foods, grab-and-go options, a variety of beer and wine, and small produce selection.

“I can tell you that 99 out of 100 days I’ve been in here I’ve walked out of here happier than I got here, and a lot of that is the team and customers I’m interacting with on a daily basis that really remind me about the good things that are happening, even when I see that we got so much room to grow,” Barbian said. “It’s a good challenge.”

Barbian is also excited to take part in his first Small Business Saturday event this weekend. Nov. 26 marks the 13th annual Small Business Saturday, which falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday and serves as the kickoff to the holiday season for independent retailers and restaurateurs.

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Kabbage from American Express, which promotes Small Business Saturday, earlier this month issued its inaugural Small Business Holiday Report to track major trends among U.S. small businesses heading into the holiday season.

Fifty-three percent of small businesses plan to adjust their budget for additional holiday expenses, according to a polling of 550 small business leaders in the study. The top way small businesses surveyed plan to prepare their workforce for the holidays (32%) is by giving holiday bonuses to current and new employees.  

“Small businesses understand the criticality of successfully navigating this time of year,” said Brett Sussman, Kabbage from American Express vice president head of sales and marketing, in a statement. “As we approach this holiday season, they’re making the necessary preparations and adjustments to win the holidays.”   

Barbian takes pride in featuring many other small businesses among Big River Market’s offerings including Vice & Virtue serving as the store’s in-house coffee bean. Other local businesses such as Raw Girls and Bain Barbecue and Bakery are also featured.

“Our aim is to grow and help our partners grow with us,” Barbian said.

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Clark Butcher established Victory Bicycle Studio, 2549 Broad Ave., in 2010 and has the seen his small business grow over the past 12 years — particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic as interest in the sport has grown, he said.

While he is putting in substantial effort toward online advertising and emails to grab consumer attention ahead of Small Business Saturday, Butcher said it’s often the worst performing sales Saturday of the year for Victory Bicycle Studio.

He encouraged those who want to shop local to do so on a more regular basis and to choose local stores over name brands when given the opportunity.

“I don’t want anyone to have to feel they have shop local because it’s Small Business Saturday,” Butcher said. “I want people that want to shop local every day.”

Omer Yusuf covers the Ford project in Haywood County, residential real estate and tourism for The Commercial Appeal. He can be reached via email or followed on Twitter @OmerAYusuf.