Make us your home page

Shoppers celebrate local offerings during Small Business Saturday


More than a dozen dogs and their owners crowded into a Seminole Heights store Saturday morning on a mission.

They were there to shop, and even the cute poodle in the next aisle wasn't going to distract them.

The weekly dog walking group arrived at Health Mutt, a natural pet market and dog wash at 6116 N Central Ave., to celebrate Small Business Saturday, a day aimed at providing a boost to the local economy during one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

"My favorite aspect of Small Business Saturday is that the entire community comes together," said Kendra Bailey, the owner of Health Mutt. "People show appreciation for the unique, vibrant shops that make this neighborhood a fun place to live."

Created three years ago by American Express, Small Business Saturday is held the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Customers who register with American Express and use their card at participating stores are eligible for a $25 credit on their statement. Many stores also offer sales of their own.

That's what brought Chuck and Martha Altman, of South Tampa, to Cheese Please on Saturday.

The couple routinely visits the cheese and wine specialty shop at 4213 S Manhattan Ave. but made an additional trip to take advantage of the American Express deal.

"I'm sure we'll be back before Christmas," Chuck Altman said. "You can't get this anywhere else — it's a unique spot and the knowledge they have about cheese is amazing."

And compared to fighting the crowds at the big box retailers on Black Friday, shopping at a small business is pleasant, Martha Altman said. With the store to themselves Saturday morning, the couple tried several varieties of cheese before purchasing three hunks and a jar of merlot jelly.

"We have to support our local business owners," Martha Altman said.

Carlos Kanamori, who co-owns Cheese Please with Michael Jones, said he is grateful for those customers who come in year round, but is happy to see a spike in business associated with the event.

"It is a great opportunity not just for us but for all small businesses," he said.

On Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Ben Chertok was surprised at the number of people who turned out on what was only the second day that his business, Central Oddities, has been open.

"I think it has been more than I expected," Chertok said of Saturday's customers, noting that the numbers were even greater than what he saw on Black Friday. "I wasn't sure how busy it would be."

The opening of Central Oddities, at 2055 Central Ave., is the culmination of a longtime dream for Chertok, a teacher of construction technology and English at St. Petersburg High School. The store, which sells an eclectic array of antiques, folk art, pinball machines and other games, is an outgrowth of Chertok's passion for collecting old and hard-to-find items.

Among those he sold Saturday were a Victorian chair, a stained glass piece, a set of vintage board games, and a 1930s peep show doll that Chertok described as "scandalous."

He credited other businesses in the area, particularly the Art Pool Gallery, with spreading the word and keeping customers flowing.

The same was the case down the street, where RoCo Traders teamed with its neighboring business, Twigs and Leaves, to promote their merchandise. The latter business, at 1013 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. S, sells a variety of native Florida plants and garden supplies. A front garden had some of the plants on display intermingled with some of RoCo Traders' decorative metal sculptures, bird baths and tiki torch bulbs.

Business usually picks up around the holidays, said RoCo Traders owner Durella Rodriguez, but she credited national advertising and word of mouth about Small Business Saturday with bringing a noticeable spike in the number of shoppers.

"It felt to me like people were making a conscious effort to support local businesses," Rodriguez said. "I think the long term benefit would be, once you get them in here, they keep coming back."

Times staff photographers Lara Cerri and Willie Allen contributed to this report. Shelley Rossetter can be reached at or (813) 661-2442.

Shoppers celebrate local offerings during Small Business Saturday 11/24/12 [Last modified: Saturday, November 24, 2012 10:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  2. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times


    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]
  3. The Iron Yard coding academy to close in St. Petersburg


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Iron Yard, a code-writing academy with a location in downtown St. Petersburg, will close for good this summer.

    Instructors (from left) Mark Dewey, Jason Perry, and Gavin Stark greet the audience at The Iron Yard, 260 1st Ave. S, in St. Petersburg during "Demo Day" Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, at The Iron Yard, which is an immersive code school that is part of a trend of trying to address the shortage of programmers.  The academy is closing this summer.  [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  4. Florida's unemployment rate drops for fourth straight month


    Unemployment in Florida hit a 10-year low in June, clocking in at 4.1 percent, down from 4.3 percent in May. The state added 19,400 jobs over the month, and saw growth in most industries. But there's one glaring missing piece to the economic recovery puzzle: wage growth.

    Florida's unemployment level dropped to 4.1 percent in June from 4.3 percent in May. |  [Times file photo]
  5. Is sinkhole damage sinking Tampa Bay property values?

    Real Estate

    On a scale of desirability, the house for sale on Whittner Drive in Land O' Lakes would rank fairly low. It's a short sale; it sits on an unstabilized sinkhole and it's within a few miles of two houses that collapsed into a gargantuan hole July 14.

    A gated community in Hernando's Spring Hill area, Pristine Place has long been susceptible to sinkholes with nearly a third of its houses with documented sinkhole damage by 2012. Today, however, many houses with repaired sinkhole damage are selling for more than houses without any issues. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times file photo]