Small businesses reap profits during holiday season


With the holiday shopping rush in mid-frenzy, most eyes are on the big-box retailers and their door-buster sales.

But Jennifer Hardaway is hoping shoppers will mix in some local stores as well. Hardaway and her partner run Mindful Nest, a gallery and gift shop on Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank, where she mixes custom batches of lotions and fragrances.

"This year, it feels to me like people are really shopping," said Hardaway.

That uptick in sales is good news for small-business owners, who, like the big corporations, see the end of the year as key to their success.

"It's just as important for smaller stores and retailers to do well through the holidays as it is for the big companies," said Kim Ritter-Martinez, an economist with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation

Independently owned shops, Ritter-Martinez says, offer items and personal service that can't found in big chains.

A good example: the Mignon Chocolate Shop in Glendale.

"You can buy a box for $5 at Target, and you cannot compare it to a $15 bos here," said Joe Terpoghossian, Mignon Chocolate.

With shops in Glendale, Pasadena and Van Nuys, the all-natural chocolate-maker relies heavily on local sales, especially this time of year.

"It's the second-biggest shopping season for us," said Terpoghossian.

Talk to people who are shopping at local stores, and many of them say it may cost them a little more, but they feel like they're helping their neighbors.

"I like to support the local artisans and try to keep that economy going," said local shopper Gail Ramsey.

"People have, in their neighborhoods, they identify with a certain sense of community, and they like to support those local retailers," said Ritter-Martinez

The owners at Mindful Nest say 70 percent of everything they sell is made in Southern California, which means money spent here stays here.

"We are supporting the artists that make the products and it saves gas and shipping, and you're supporting your local community," said Hardaway.

And in these trying times, extra shoppers are a holiday gift that can't come early enough.

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