Cedar Falls highlighted in "Small Business Saturday" campaign - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Falls highlighted in "Small Business Saturday" campaign

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- We've survived Black Friday. One day later, locally owned stores are celebrating a new shopping holiday. You might say, it's a big day for small business.

"Small Business Saturday. You will see bags today, we're giving away $100 gift cards from American Express as one of the three towns featured, and $500 worth of downtown gift certificates," said Community Main Street Executive Director MaraBeth Soneson.

Small Business Saturday is a national movement, spearheaded by American Express. The company is offering a deal for card holders who shop local: a $25 credit if you spend at least $25 at a qualifying business.

But the goal of the day goes beyond saving money. American Express chose Cedar Falls as one of three Main Street communities in the nation with a thriving downtown. They brought a camera crew along for a ceremony and prize give-a-way at Santa's Workshop.

All the commotion outside Saturday encouraged families to, eventually, head inside. That's where store owners like Marty Hansen and Degin Muehling embraced the nationwide promotion to drum up local business.

"We're hoping this Small Business Saturday becomes a tradition. And obviously we're hoping it helps continue with this holiday season in particular and gets people really aware of small businesses, and what we're trying to do here in the community," said Hansen.

The goal is not to drive you away from big box stores. But they're hoping you'll realize the value of shops like Hansen and Muehling's. According to the Small Business Administration, locally owned businesses create 65% of new jobs nationwide, and 68 cents of every dollar stays in the community. So when you spend your money, think of it as investing in your neighbor.

"We keep the money here. What we do, we put back in the community. And we appreciate the fact that the community gives back to us in the form of patronage," said Hansen.

Marty admits, the notion of a global corporation promoting small business has a bit of irony to it.

"When I first found out about it, I was a little skeptical, because it was backed by American Express. But with the social media it has really helped me understand the day they were trying to promote and what they were trying to do," said Hansen.

What they're trying to do, is move the economy forward. Right now, that's at the top of everyone's Christmas list. And it takes stores of all sizes, working together, to accomplish the goal.

"It really represents that, even big corporations like American Express recognize the value of small business owners," Hansen added.

"If people don't shop at small businesses, we won't have them any longer," Soneson agreed.

Small Business Saturday continued through Midnight November 27. To learn more about the event, click here.

If you're interested in attending Cedar Falls Holiday Hoopla events, click here.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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