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Small Business Saturday vital to local retailers

Lee Balentine and his daughter Alexis.

By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

Every year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, small businesses nationwide prepare themselves for the last-minute holiday shopping rush. It’s fitting then that Nov. 24, the Saturday following Thanksgiving, should be dubbed Small Business Saturday.

Lee Balentine has run his small family business in Bossier for 22 years. Lee has over 30 years of experience in the jewelry industry and is now passing that knowledge and experience down to his daughter, Alexis.

“When we have people come in, we want them to feel like they are around family. We want to make a connection with our customers. We want to be a part of the very special occasions in people’s lives,” Alexis said.

For a retailer like Bossier City’s Balentine & Co. Jewelers, a movement like Small Business Saturday that encourages consumers to do their unfinished holiday shopping with the entrepreneurs that drive the bulk of the U.S. economy is important.

“Instead of going into a big box business where you see a different face every time you walk in the door, you get to know us and we get to know you,” said Alexis, manager of  Balentine & Co Jewelers.

Balentine & Co. specializes in custom creations and the store showcases a wide selection to suit every style. Their services include jewelry repair, custom jewelry design, jewelry appraisals, watch repair, clock repair, and corporate jewelry.

“If you don’t know jewelry, know your jeweler,” said Alexis.

She noted that when a shopper supports a local small business, he or she is also supporting the town, city, and neighborhood he or she lives in. Businesses pay sales taxes to the city and county the business is located in. The tax money is used to support public schools, parks, roads, and sidewalks, as well as fund public service workers, like firefighters.

“Not only do the taxes we pay go back into the schools that we put our children in and go into the fire and police departments, we get to be a part of the community as well. We get to support the community that we are directly involved in,” Alexis says.

As more consumers are learning the importance of “shopping small,” Alexis believes that being located in the same shopping center as other small businesses has helped with increased foot traffic.

“I think customers are learning more about the importance of small businesses and why they should support them. We have this incredible little center of small businesses right here. In this little community of small businesses, we help promote each other,” she said.

Noting the growth in Bossier, Alexis says that she has noticed an influx of customers coming to her store.

“I do believe the growth of Bossier has helped increase customers for us. I have also noticed more Shreveport locals coming to Bossier to do some shopping with us,” Alexis says.

Small Business Saturday was originally conceived and promoted by American Express back in 2010.

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.