Small businesses Saturday helps flood damaged communities

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DENVER -- Small Business Saturday made a big impact at many Colorado businesses impacted by flooding.

The campaign to support local retailers took on added significance in Boulder County where many businesses have been struggling to recover from more than 17 inches of rain in September.

"It was a fairly tough couple of months there," said Eric Scherer, owner of Memories to Digital in Boulder. "But things really seem to be back to normal or very close to it at least."

Memories to Digital was forced to close for a few days due to flood water. Up the road in the town of Lyons, a voluntary evacuation caused the majority of businesses to close for much longer. South Creek Ltd., a specialty fly fishing shop, didn't open it's doors for seven weeks.

"Small businesses have a hard time taking a shot like that," said South Creek owner Mike Clark.

Mike said he and other businesses have survived thanks to loyal customers.

"They all jumped up and said, we can help," Clark said.

In fact, that help went beyond Clark's business. Member of the fly fishing community began donating specialty rods, and fish-themed paintings, with all the proceeds going to Lyons residents who lost their homes to the flood.

"Those are the people who need help. Those are the people who built this town," Clark said.

In fact, Clark made his own donation to the cause.

"A $2,500 bamboo rod," Clark said. "That's from my collection."

His store is now set to hand over a check to local residents for more than $13,000.

"And counting," Clark said.

Memories to Digital has given back too, restoring more than 20,000 water damaged pohots and a number of videos free of charge.

One of many big gestures by small businesses.

"Being in the memory business, we know how important it is to try to recover everything you possibly can," Scherer said.

Started in 2010 as a campaign by American Express, Small Business Saturday encourages shoppers to spend their holiday money at Main Street merchants.

More than 9 in 10 small-business owners nationally give back to their communities in some way, be it working with nonprofits, coaching youth sports teams or holding public office, said Ron Aldridge, Mississippi director of the nonprofit nonpartisan National Federation of Independent Business.

The federal Small Business Administration estimates that nearly 70 million customers spent $5.5 billion nationwide last year at small, independent stores during the event.

In Denver Mayor Michael Hancock will promote the event by shopping at several small businesses including Gnome’s Nook Confectioners on Gaylord Street and Whatever Pops Up on Larimer Street.

Larimer Square hosted a "Shopping at the Square" event Saturday  to attract more customers into local retailers in that neighborhood.

The movement has gained momentum through the use of social media,.  Shoppers are encouraged to use the hashtags #SmallBizSat and#ShopSmall on Twitter. On Facebook, the Small Business Saturday page now has 3.3 million likes.

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