Downtown St. Petersburg shops to participate in Small Business S - WFLA News Channel 8

Downtown St. Petersburg shops to participate in Small Business Saturday

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The Small Business Administration estimates people spent $5.5 billion nationwide during last year's Small Business Saturday. The Small Business Administration estimates people spent $5.5 billion nationwide during last year's Small Business Saturday.
The Small Business Administration estimates people spent $5.5 billion nationwide during last year's Small Business Saturday. The Small Business Administration estimates people spent $5.5 billion nationwide during last year's Small Business Saturday.
The Small Business Administration estimates people spent $5.5 billion nationwide during last year's Small Business Saturday. The Small Business Administration estimates people spent $5.5 billion nationwide during last year's Small Business Saturday.
The Small Business Administration estimates people spent $5.5 billion nationwide during last year's Small Business Saturday. The Small Business Administration estimates people spent $5.5 billion nationwide during last year's Small Business Saturday.
ST PETERSBURG, FL - Meg Suchan and her mother Susan Loftus avoided Black Friday like the plague.

"We avoided it at all cost,” Meg said as she laughed as her mother added “there's no heart in that."

Instead, the two found themselves browsing in a small downtown St. Petersburg gift shop before the tree lighting Friday evening. Susan found so many things she plans on coming back Saturday.

"You want to put thought into gifts,” she said. “Sometimes everybody's so busy and everything is so massive and homogenized that you don't find just the right gift for that person that's in the back of your mind all year long.”

“You walk into a store like this and it's like...I've just done my Christmas shopping in my head - I'm all set."

That’s good news for Linda Albrecht, one of the co-owners of The Gift Box, where Meg and Susan browsed for about 15 minutes. Albrecht is one of the four store owners at 400 Beach who are all celebrating Small Business Saturday.

Related: Temple Terrace coffee shop prepares for Small Business Saturday

"It was great for us last year so we're hoping that will happen the same this year,” she said. "It was one of our biggest weekends."

Albrecht believes it shows a sign of St. Petersburg’s boom over the last years. She and her business partner, Judy Bailey opened the shops three years ago in May. She once owned a frame shop. She and Bailey, an interior designer by trade, felt like downtown needed a mom and pop gift shop.

"We see many many different people... tourists, just a lot of different wonderful people coming into the area,” Albrecht said. "I think since they've built condominiums, you see people walking in the evenings, which you didn't see years ago."

American Express started Small Business Saturday in 2010 to help small retailers during the economic downturn. The company and the federal Small Business Administration estimates about 70 million customers took part nationwide last year at independent stores and spent $5.5 billion.

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