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Annual Small Business Saturday event goes virtual; organizers expect significant uptick in sales

Business News

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Small business owners are hoping Rhode Islanders will shop local this holiday season, especially since many have been struggling to stay afloat due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Small Business Saturday this weekend, and normally, Shop RI holds an event at the Crowne Plaza where hundreds of vendors can showcase their goods and services to thousands of attendees.

But due to the pandemic, the annual event will be held virtually this year.

Organizers like Sue Babin told 12 News that, because the event is online this year, businesses could potentially turn a bigger profit than they did in years past.

“People from all around the country will be able to shop. I have relatives in Kentucky and Florida and they were never able to attend this event,” Babin said. “So because it’s online, all of our vendors can get the word out to people that they know in other states and folks will be able to visit each one of these vendors.”

More than 120 vendors statewide are expected to take part in the virtual event, which goes live at 9 a.m. Saturday.

“Under each store will be a category…when you click on one of those categories, there will be a drop-down menu of the various vendors that sell those different items in that category,” Babin explained.

The National Retail Federation estimates that shoppers plan to make 60% of their purchases online this holiday season. Babin said more than 90% of Rhode Island businesses are small and she hopes shoppers will choose to shop local.

“It’s our opportunity to support our neighbors and to support the small businesses that are throughout the state,” she said.

Babin said the site will be live until the end of December, meaning those who can’t shop Saturday can still browse what the state’s small businesses have to offer.

More information regarding the virtual event can be found online.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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