They are at the opposite ends of retail experience, one having crafted and repaired jewelry since 1972, the other operating a women’s clothing shop for just under three months.
But John Paul Marvets and Linda Mayher share one thing in common. They’re local retailers with a goal of remaining healthy members of the Columbus small business community amid a sea of national chains and the ubiquitous Internet.
With the holiday shopping season kicking off this week, Small Business Saturday, an event founded by American Express in 2010, is custom made for people like Marvets.
“I think you need a local shop, a local jeweler, that knows how to work on jewelry,” he said. “I don’t know any of the chain stores that have the capability to do the repair that we do. I don’t know any chain stores that have the personnel that are trained to notice things such as missing prongs. Most of them basically sell new and they’re done.”
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Small Business Saturday, also dubbed “Shop Small,” has a national goal of generating awareness of the need to keep local retailers, restaurants and service businesses vibrant, employing people and investing time and money into the community.
A Consumer Insights survey found that 70 percent of people consider shopping at a small business to buy gifts they may not be able to find elsewhere. The top five places they would shop on Small Business Saturday are food stores (38 percent), restaurants (37 percent), clothing stores (35 percent), bakeries (34 percent) and gift shops (31 percent).
Mayher, with her husband, John, opened the boutique, Scout & Molly’s, on the upper level of The Landings off Whitesville Road in early September. It sells women’s clothing, including denim, casual tops and dresses ranging in price from $50 to $300.
She said bringing new lines of clothing to Columbus keeps residents from having to shop online as much, which in turn allows the money spent here to support the local economy instead of the lion’s share of it being returned to large corporate coffers.
“People were going online to buy them,” Mayher said of the clothing brands she carries, including Michael Stars and Bella Dahl. “A portion of that money was not coming in and being reinvested back into the community, which is why I like shop local so much.”
Marvets, too, said the Internet is a major issue for local retailers, including jewelry stores like his that typically surpass their web-world competition in customer service.
“I’m amazed at the things that they buy on the Internet and they bring to me to have them sized because they would have to send them back and wait three or four weeks. And they need them tomorrow,” said the custom jeweler, who relocated his store from Warm Springs Road to a former Columbus Bank and Trust building on 13th Avenue, closer to downtown, this fall.
“These young kids are duped into thinking the Internet is the greatest thing since sliced bread when, really, you’ve got to be just as savvy a buyer on the Internet as you do in person,” said Marvets, who actually will be closed Friday and Saturday, but will reopen Monday through Saturday next week until Christmas, putting in 12- to 15-hour days.
Many of the city’s small business retailers and restaurants are clustered in specific areas of the city, including downtown, The Landings and near the Bradley Park Drive and Whittlesey Road corridors.
To generate Small Business Saturday participation in the downtown area this weekend, Uptown Columbus is encouraging local residents to stop in and spend money from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Market Days on Broadway kicks off at 9 a.m., while musical acts will perform 10 a.m.-3 p.m., with some merchants offering special deals.
And don’t forget, after Saturday, there will be only 24 shopping days remaining to purchase a gift for that special someone in your life.