Small businesses say customer service key to success

Samuel's founder and owner Sam Bushman chats with a customer at his store Monday. Bushman said small businesses can set themselves apart from national retailers through better customer service.

Small business owners told KRCG 13 Monday this week's shopping rushes do not play as big a role in their business as they do for national chains.

Samuel's founder and owner Sam Bushman said while the holidays bring a welcome uptick in business, he said his business does not depend on massive sales during this time. He said tuxedos and suits form the bulk of his business, so most of his sales result from proms and weddings occurring throughout the year. Since he cannot compete with national chains on prices, Bushman said small businesses like his try to set themselves apart through customer service.

"You come in here, and we're actually glad to see you, and we will wait on you, we will gift-wrap your purchases," he said.

Bushman said Small Business Saturday, which started in 2010, has been a welcome addition to his business, calling it "a wonderful thing." According to the Small Business Administration, some 70 million people spent about $5.5 billion at locally-owned businesses during last year's Small Business Saturday.

River City Florist & Gifts owner Mike Moscato said he generally gets a few more customers on Black Friday but, like Bushman, does not expect or receive the kind of returns big-box retailers get. He said small businesses can best compete with chains through a combination of good customer service and unique products. River City provided KRCG 13's holiday set decorations.

Black Friday does impact at least one business. Saffees' co-owner Judy Howard said the shopping season kickoff impacts businesses of every size.

"Small business absolutely has to compete with everyone," Howard said, explaining she uses deep discounts to entice customers to come into the store where they can then experience one-on-one customer service.

Like Moscato and Bushman, Howard said small businesses can compete with national retailers on the customer-service front. Howard noted that since Saffees' has eight stores in two states, it has to be able to compete in several different geographic areas.

Small Business Saturday is on Nov. 30th this year.