Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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Shaunna Jensen (left), who owns the Mustang flower and gift shop, Heart Strings, with her husband helps a customer at the store on Tuesday morning. (Staff photo by Jon Watje)

By Robbie Robertson
Staff Writer

‘Tis the season. Shop ‘til you drop.

First, there is Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest retail shopping days of the year.

Then, there is Cyber Monday. The Monday after Thanksgiving was expected to be the busiest online shopping day of the year. The National Retail Federation expected more than 131 million Americans to go online to do some Christmas shopping.

In between Friday and Monday is Small Business Saturday. This is the date American Express created, three years ago, to encourage consumers to shop exclusively with local merchants instead of big chain stores.

Stores like Heart Strings Flowers and Gifts, at 224 W. State Highway 152.

"Those dates don’t seem to have a big impact on us. I would say Black Friday sales are typically lower, or flat. Nobody comes to a small flower and gift shop on Black Friday," said Erik Jensen, owner of Heart Strings, along with his wife, Shaunna.

Heart Strings has been in business since 2006. They are the largest gift shop in Mustang, and have been voted Best Florist and Gift Shop in the Mustang area on numerous occasions.

"We have unique gifts and flower arrangements, and have been able to give good service, quickly. We seem to have an ability to respond to the customers needs in a timely fashion," Jensen said.

While there is a place for both the big store and the small store in every community, the impact of the locally owned business is significant.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) says about six cents of every dollar spent with a Big Box retailer, is retained in the community. The SBA says about 20 cents of every dollar spent with a chain store is retained in the community. And, the SBA says about 60 cents of every dollar spent with a locally owned business is retained in the community.

The percentages may vary depending on who is doing the business study, and how the data is collected.

"Spending money with a locally owned business has a greater impact on the community no matter what study you look at. The local business owner has a greater allegiance to the community," said Robert Coleman, Mustang Economic Development Director.

Local sales creates sales tax. The City of Mustang gets some of that sales tax money. This "buy local" concept is pretty simple economics. It’s good for the economy of Mustang.

"Sales tax is 41 percent of our revenue. The sales tax helps us pay for fire and police protection, roads, parks, and helps pay for programs that enhance the quality of life," Coleman said.

For the most part, local businesses hire local accountants, printers, bankers, and lawyers. They spend their dollars locally. For the most part, out-of-state companies don’t.

That doesn’t make the big business stores bad people. It just means local people are more likely to be involved in the leadership of the community, and understand the demands of the local consumer and economy.

The Christmas season will be busy for Heart Strings, but not as busy as February. To prepare and survive Valentine’s Day, Heart Strings will go from a normal staff of nine employees, to a staff of 25 people.

"These are all people who live here in Mustang. They buy their lunch locally. They buy a tank of gas locally. It is a chain of events that keeps the money moving throughout the community, thus benefiting the entire community," Jensen said.

Buying locally creates a better "sense of place."

"A "sense of place" is what draws people to a business or community. It is a feeling you have for a place.

The local retailer can create a sense of place better than the chain store," Coleman said.

‘Tis the season. Shop ‘til you drop.


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