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GUIDE: How to shop small and give back on Small Business Saturday

This year, your dollar could recycle, support a business hit hard by the pandemic and stigmas, or stretch from Cleveland and across the world.

CLEVELAND — Small Business Saturday is a great time to show support for the local shops in your area. But this year, not only is that most important, but it's a way to give back and support something bigger than yourself. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that a helping hand can go so far.

Here are three ways to not only shop small in Cleveland, but make an impact for the greater good of this world

1- Shop Clean

Rachel Regula opened her Better World Refill Shop in Lakewood just over a month ago. It features refillable bottles, and products like soaps and candles to refill those bottles, all in the name of recycling and keeping this earth clean.

"Pollution and waste has skyrocketed since the pandemic started," says Regula. "Which is crazy to think, but it's happening.

Her shop began as a way to become more sustainable in Regula's own life, after she was diagnosed with Lyme disease four years ago. She says after taking a cleaner approach to life, she realized Cleveland needed the same thing. 

Better World Refill Shop is on Madison Avenue in Lakewood. It is open on Small Business Saturday, and is offering 20% off bottles, 10% off e-gift cards, and will give you a gift if you spend $50 or more.

2- Shop Kind

There are some businesses that saw a drop in sales here in Cleveland, before the pandemic ever reached the US. Local Chinese restaurants and businesses in the AsiaTown district of the city saw a 40-50% drop in sales alone in February.

That drop, business owners say was fueled by a stigma and discrimination around Asian businesses since the coronavirus first began popping up in China.

But to combat this issue and support local, the AsiaTown and MidTown shopping districts launched a "Shop Small Crawl". Shoppers can pick up a passport with tasks like taking a public art selfie, ordering take out, or buying something "small" within AsiaTown or MidTown, and complete at least six of them.That enters them in to a neighborhood Prize Pack with more than 100-dollars worth of goodies from that small business community.

One business in that community is Anna Beauty Center on Superior Avenue. Though the store has been around for about 20 years, they just opened a new storefront a month ago, offering facials, waxing, and skincare. Owner Anna Li says business is less than half what it was around this time last year, and she normally relied heavily on the holiday season. But things have gotten tougher.

"Business is very important," she says. "We need to open our shops, pay the rent, we have to get some income. It's for a living."

Anna Beauty Center is open everyday but Sunday. Call (216) 574-2288 at least 24 hours in advance to schedule an appointment in one of their four private rooms for facials, massages, and waxing. The store is a Shiseido retailer.

3- Shop and Stretch your Dollar

There are several ways to give back to Clevelanders, and to people you've never met across the country this year. You can eat at an ethnic restaurant, or shop somewhere offering proceeds to a non-profit not located in Cleveland, that gives back to other nations.

But one non-profit is doing all that and more, right here in Cleveland. Meet Becky Trout and her business, ButterPear.

The online retail shop offers everything from hand-made clothing and jewelry, to home decor and kitchen utensils. Everything shoppers can buy, is made by artisans living in several different African cities.

Trout, says ButterPear was born after she visited Africa and met the artisans themselves. They were already creating similar products, but not getting enough return on investment. She found a way to elevate their businesses, and create funding for African children to go to school through the non-profit.

But ButterPear's impact is being felt here in Cleveland as well. Trout hopes to one day have a storefront for her business, and employ local refugee children to sell the items.

"So my biggest, I guess passion and vision for the company in general, is that we have so many refugees here that have so much to offer," says Trout. "And finding a way to connect them with their culture, with a product that people here love and want to be apart of, all while paying homage to whose culture it comes from, is the biggest thing."

You can find ButterPear on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It is also participating in a coupon book from US Together, another non-profit that helps refugee families resettle in Cleveland. 

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