Wendy Luevano, owner of Simply @ Home antiques in downtown El Centro, shows off a refurbished vintage tube radio, one of many collectibles discounted for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30. | William Roller photo
EL CENTRO — Begun a decade ago to spotlight local independent retailers, Small Business Saturday has stepped out of the shadow of its overbearing relation, Black Friday, with increasing retail participants and customer support.
Closed Nov. 28-29 for Thanksgiving and Black Friday, Simply @ Home antiques, collectibles and unique gifts reopened at 10 a.m. on Nov. 30 for this year’s Saturday observation. That was to the delight of its loyal customers and merchant neighbors, several whom dropped by the 569 W. Main Street location to browse, shop or say hello.
is neatly arranged in three main aisles across generous floor space without
blocking passage from one merchandise section to another. The shop is run by
Wendy Luevano and her mother, Nancy Gaston. Luevano did open on Black Friday in
2017 for several hours but sales were not impressive and she said she did not
want to repeat the effort. Luevano contends she cannot compete with big-box
retailers and sees no reason to enter their lane.
I worked at Best Buy in La Jolla shoppers had tents outside the store waiting
the day before Black Friday and that’s crazy,” she said. “I’m hoping
to catch some of the Black Friday shoppers this afternoon (Saturday). I know
Black Friday is not just Friday anymore.”
Start of a Tradition
decade ago during the depths of the recession, the American Express credit card
company launched Small Business Saturday to reboot the economy devastated by
home foreclosures and business failures. Spending on the day has reached an
estimated $103 billion, the firm reported on its website.
you’ll see so many one-of-a-kind things. Where else can you find a refurbished
AM tube radio that sounds as good as the day it first sold?” she asked.
“We got handmade fishing lures and vintage battle swords. Where are you
going to find that? Maybe eBay.”
Home is a downtown store anyone can walk into and still get gift-wrapped
merchandise, something many large retailers have abandoned, she explained.
think Small Business Saturday is great,” said Luevano. “Do I think it
brings in more business? I’m not certain. But we had a lady in this morning who
bought a small item and she actually knew about Small Business Saturday. So I
told her, I really appreciate her purchase.”
Vintage Resale Shop Sees Impact
One block west, Tiendique vintage clothes, shoes and jewelry, was extending Black Friday sales through Saturday, explained Christian Pimentel, sales associate. Owner Liz Rodriguez was out of town for the holiday. Tiendique opened Friday from 3-8 p.m. but the foot traffic was a little slow because many were at the malls visiting big box stores, noted Pimentel.
is really busy and we have a lot of support from loyal customers, some new
faces and people we haven’t seen for months, popping up,” said Pimentel.
“Today, everything on the ground floor is 20 percent off. Clothes and
shoes on the second floor are 30 to 50 percent off.”
not open on Cyber Monday or Giving Tuesday, Dec. 2-3, but resumed business on
believe Small Business Saturday helps bring in shoppers,” said Pimentel.
“I think it brings in people who tend to ignore small business. But,
honestly, this day itself helps to compete with the big retailers.”
Appreciation for New Institution
An El Centro institution since 1952, Green’s Jewelry & Gifts, just one block north of Main St. at 670 Broadway, sells from a well-stocked showroom of unique diamond, gold, pearl, semi-precious stones and silver jewelry. Popular brands include Stuller, Hot Diamonds, Bulova & Citizen, as well as clothing lines and gifts. Scott DeVoy has owned the business since 1985.
in the store is up to 50 percent off on holiday and gift items,” he said.
“It’s our way of thanking our loyal customers for shopping here throughout
since Small Business Saturday started Green’s has participated and repeat
customers have become accustomed to the concept, noted DeVoy.
a good way to kick start Christmas shopping,” he said. “It also
stimulates customers to order custom pieces and we’ve always been a custom
shop. Small Business Saturday reminds people of the holiday and some are
already Christmas shopping. Saturdays have been real busy so it’s starting to
Although part of a chain, Ashley HomeStore branches are individually owned, explained Mario Vizcarra, general manager of the El Centro location at 1950 N. Imperial Ave. Its Black Friday sale continued through Cyber Monday. On Small Business Saturday the store had a live-stream drawing for a 50-inch smart TV. Customers could also win three tickets to see pop singer Ariana Grande perform in Phoenix on Dec. 12.
December is a bit slow for furniture stores, Ashley will hold two VIP events
for in-kind benefits such as free delivery or a free recliner with the purchase
of a sofa, explained Vizcarra.
shopping is not a big percentage of our business since furniture is not
typically gift items,” said Vizcarra. “But Small Business Saturday is
divine. It’s exciting because it’s happening for all our merchant neighbors and
you want everybody to do well.”