The recession was not kind to small business owners. As they closed down shop, big-box discount retailers moved in to grab their customers. But this holiday season – when consumers at all income levels are expected to spend a little more – locally-owned specialty stores may get some of bounce.
"This is the first year where the specialty retailers are holding ground." says Marshal Cohen, a retail analyst for NPD Group, a Port Washington-based consumer research firm. "They're not giving way to the retailers that are trying to steal their business."
For Stuart Coffee, owner of STU-art Jewelry Designs in SoHo, that’s good news. He’s among the small business owners touting Small Business Saturday, a city-endorsed marketing campaign to encourage customers to buy local.
Coffee says he'll take all the help he can get. "“The large stores, I mean, they can afford to advertise, and money’s nothing to them, so you know, the little stores have to get together and promote themselves," he says.
He’s had his custom jewelry shop for almost ten years, and he says it’s getting tougher. “Years ago, you knew exactly how business was going to be. But now you don’t know. One day it’s busy one day it’s slow, you don’t know," he says. "It's a challenge."
New York City has more than 950,000 small businesses, according to the Small Business Administration, behind only Los Angeles. So why do New Yorkers bother with all the uncertainty and the overhead of running a business in the city?
“We’re crazy!" Coffee says with a hearty laugh.
Nationwide, locally owned specialty stores are expected to capture about 20 percent of the holiday market.