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Indie toy store owner finds her place among big box stores

| Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Nov 25, 2016 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

Minneapolis Star Tribune – November 25, 2016

by John Ewoldt

Sometimes spreading the word on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TV ads and I-94 billboards isn’t enough for Jessica Persons.

The owner of Flying Circus Toys — a small, independent store in the Albertville Premium Outlets — said people get to the mall and still can’t find her store.

“I’m not a national chain with a huge sign over the door so they usually call me when they’re at the mall and say, ‘Where are you?’ ” she said.

It’s a conundrum that many small-business retailers face this time of year. They’re fighting for shoppers’ dollars amid big box hustle and bustle and the quiet simplicity of online ordering. One tool they’re using is Small Business Saturday.

Created seven years ago by American Express, it reminds shoppers that shopping for the holidays is more than discounters, department stores and Amazon.

“We’re seeing growing public support for independent businesses in the Twin Cities and other markets,” said Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Minneapolis. “We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re noticing a bit of a revival in bookstores, pet stores, fabric stores and neighborhood grocery stores.”

The number of consumers shopping Small Business Saturday rose 8.2 percent last year. And the number of new small businesses surviving into their fifth year of operation rose to 49 percent in 2014, up from 46 percent in 2013.

Read the full story here.