TRINITY — Marc McCabe likes the feeling of spending his money in a family-owned business.
It's about supporting his community, he said while shopping Friday with his young son in MacKinnon Jewelers.
"I live locally, so I would much rather buy locally and shop with a small business," he said.
McCabe is the kind of customer businesses like MacKinnon are shooting for today as part Small Business Saturday, a national campaign to encourage people to shop at locally owned boutiques.
American Express launched the campaign in 2010 to provide more exposure to mom-and-pops during the biggest shopping weekend of the year. This year nearly half of all independent merchants plan to incorporate Small Business Saturday into their holiday marketing plans, while 67 percent plan to offer special discounts today, according to a survey by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business.
The federation says the holiday shopping season is especially crucial to small businesses, which cited weak sales as the top problem they face.
"Small businesses have suffered so much during the recent economic slump, and a holiday sales boost could be the key to helping turn Florida's small businesses and the economy around," said Bill Herrle, executive director of the Florida branch of the National Federation of Independent Business. "You'll also be giving your community a boost, because money spent at your local small businesses tends to stay right in your community."
Plus local businesses provide an alternative to the grind of big-box retail shopping, and many offer solid savings as well. MacKinnon sales associate Debbie Rocchio said customers can also get the personal service that big business may not offer.
"It's just a different atmosphere here. We know all our customers and they know us," Rocchio said. "They know they will be getting the quality they want."
MacKinnon Jewelers — in Mitchell Ranch Plaza at Little Road and State Road 54 — is also a participant in the American Express promotion, which sweetens the deal by giving customers a $25 credit on their next statement if they preregister their American Express card online and use it to buy something from a small business today.
To further entice customers, MacKinnon will discount watches today by 25 to 40 percent. Fine Simon G jewelry that can run as much as $15,000 will be 10 percent off.
Music Matters owner Kevin Abendroth is hoping that a drive toward small businesses will alert customers to his year-round savings. The music shop in Grand Trinity Plaza at Little Road and Old County Road 54 always sells its instruments and gear at wholesale prices, he said.
The shop also offers music lessons and already boasts 400 students learning at the store's various studios and computer learning center. Customers can get up to 30 percent off list prices for goods.
"I think people like spending locally. Our customers trust us, they like us and they like to do business with us," Abendroth said.
It's the same relationship The Material Girl II owner Rayana Piesco has with her customers. Piesco's store, which sells new and consignment designer clothing in the Trinity Village Center at State Road 54 and Duck Slough Boulevard, is cutting prices by 25 to 50 percent today. She also has a $5 bargain bin that will be dropped to $1.
"It makes me feel good that girls can buy designer merchandise at a great price," Piesco said.
Material Girl customer Diane Wallington lives nearby and said she loves shopping where people know your name.
"It just more personal," she said.