Local merchants gear up for Shop Small Saturday Chamber, city, bank promoting Lebanon businesses

Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash addresses merchants gathered Thursday at City Hall for the Shop Small Saturday kickoff meeting as Lebanon Economic Development Director Sarah Haston listens.

Mike Alexieff • Lebanon Democrat

The day is still a week away, but local merchants are preparing their businesses for Shop Small Saturday. On that day, customers will find bargains at the 50 to 75 participating stores, door prizes and be able to enter a drawing for a gift basket with items from every business.

On Thursday, many of those merchants gathered at City Hall to pick up Shop Small promotional material, get tips on making sure the public is aware of the event and hear a pep talk from city Economic Development Director Sarah Haston.

"We choose to live here. We can make our own world," Haston told the group. "But we need to support each other. We need to think about Lebanon first. When you choose to shop in Lebanon, you're helping make Lebanon a better place."

Haston and Melanie Minter, president of the Lebanon Wilson Chamber of Commerce, urged the merchants to support each other to make the day successful by, among other things, promoting it on social media using the hashtags #thinklebanonfirst, #shopsmall and #shoplebanontn.

Minter said this is the fourth year of the local effort, although Shop Local Saturday has been promoted for a decade by American Express.

Shawn Smith, owner of The Jewelers, said of the event, "It's been fabulous. We don't even open on Black Friday — it's a corporate day where people are looking for $9 TVs at Walmart."

His store, at 1501 W. Main, will be offering specials and "one-day deals."

Cody McCray of Town Square Social, the restaurant at 145 Public Square, said last year was a "huge success" for the business. "It helps get the word out," he said.

Haston said part of the campaign is to help inform residents of the importance of shopping local. For example, for each dollar spent at a locally owned business, 67 cents stays in the community. For chain stores, just over 40 cents stays in the community. Businesses also pay taxes, boost local employment, and create a vibrant community.

Wilson Bank & Trust is supporting the effort by giving away Small Biz Bucks at its branches in Lebanon and Mt. Juliet. The coupons are worth $5 at any business participating in the Lebanon event.

Sabrina Keener, owner of Be Still and Breathe Salt Room, said the event boosts her business even though it is not a retailer.

"Mine is a service," Keener said. "A lot of times people think retail, but we sell gift cards."

The business, at 1633 W. Main St., provides salt therapy as relief for respiratory, sinus and skin conditions and overall wellness.

Last year's Shop Small Saturday was the "best I've ever done," she said, adding that she will again be offering specials that day.

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