CENTREVILLE — Centreville ushered in Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30 with the pet-friendly Barksgiving to highlight local shops in the historic courthouse square complete with dog demonstrations and contests.

“It’s not just about the individual shopper investing in the local community, it’s about the business owner’s employees as well,” said Carol D’Agostino, Centreville Main Street Manager. “When you shop local, you’re feeding into a local economy. Making it pet-friendly came from the businesses themselves since people love their animals, so we could do something for them.”

D’Agostino said she was impressed by the collaboration between local businesses to make Barksgiving a success. They “were passionate about keeping the small business community vital,” she said.

The first 300 shoppers received $10 in free Centreville Bucks to be used at area small businesses and a Barksgiving Passport in front of the Skin Studio at 114 N. Commerce St.

Shoppers could use the passport until Saturday, Dec. 7, and it included discounts from 12 downtown businesses and a chance to win a prize basket filled with gift cards and products from participating businesses, valued at more than $400.

Shoppers visited the participating business to get their passports validated. Once completed, passports must be returned to Centreville Town Hall at 101 Lawyers Row, Centreville, MD 21617, by Wednesday, Dec. 11, by mail, in person or through the off-hours mail slot in the front door. No purchase is necessary.

Valerie Coulby, owner of Commerce Street Creamery Café Bistro, said she was enthused by the number of businesses that offered input on the event and actively participated.

“Small and independently owned businesses really have to focus on the customer service aspect because I don’t think you get as many second chances with customers if they have a bad experience,” Coulby said. “I think that the business owners around town are friendly and eager for good things to happen in town.”

Members of the Animal Welfare League were present to talk about pet adoption with the public just in time for Christmas.

Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express in 2010 to educate shoppers on the impact of small businesses to the national economy. It is co-sponsored by the Small Business Administration.

“The majority of every dollar spent at a small business stay in the community, so small businesses are really the lifeblood of out town,” Centreville Town Councilman Tim McCluskey said. “This is perfect example of organic economic development. I would even say this is a successful public private partnership as well.”

Initially, Town Councilman Jeff Morgan suggested a courthouse square event to celebrate the completion of the road construction and widening and updating of the sidewalks. Soon thereafter, D’Agostino and local businesses started working on the details.

The town council provided a budget for marketing and Centreville bucks.

In 2018, the SBA reported small business retailers totaled an estimated $17.8 billion in revenue. Since its inception, an estimated $103 billion has been garnered in sales. That looks to increase, with the same report noting 70% of consumers are now aware of Small Business Saturday.

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