Holiday shoppers urged to go small, not mall – Sacramento Bee

Andy Paul could be the grinning poster boy for Small Business Saturday.

The owner of Andy’s Candy Apothecary in downtown Sacramento, he runs a little wonderland of sweets that sells gummy bears from Germany, toffee from Bakersfield, and exquisite-looking chocolates handcrafted in Sacramento.

“I love candy,” Paul said. “I’m passionate about finding high quality candy and chocolate. I keep a collection in my house.”

The candy store, which Paul and his wife opened last year, is the kind of business American Express likely had in mind when it started its campaign for Small Business Saturday five years ago.

The idea was to have a shopping day to promote local shopping between the chain-store madness of Black Friday and the online specials of Cyber Monday.

Small businesses, in turn, were encouraged to accept American Express cards, which charge merchants higher fees than other payment methods. And AmEx offered shoppers rebates if they used their cards to pay for purchases.

So far the concept seems to be working, with a growing awareness among shoppers that there’s an option to crowded malls, impersonal web sites and Visa cards.

Small Business Saturday is underway in Sacramento with shoppers patronizing local stores today.

Small Business Saturday falls between the brick and mortar insanity of Black Friday and the online shopping spree of cyber Monday. Residents are encouraged to visit local shops today instead of driving to the mall.

At Andy’s Candy on 9th Street, shopper Emily Gerber dropped in to buy her favorite chocolate malt balls and Swedish fish.

“Small business is the best,” she said. “That’s someone’s passion and dream and you’re helping it continue.”

The gourmet candy store was started last year by Andy Paul and his wife Camille Esch with the help of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. They won a year’s free rent and a variety of services to help them get started.

The business has been a success, and the couple just signed a five-year market rate lease.

The store, and many other small businesses in the city, is open until 6 p.m.

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