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(Sean Gallup/2010 Getty Images)
(Sean Gallup/2010 Getty Images)

Small Business Briefing

By the stats: Small Business Saturday success? Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz

More than 100 million Americans shopped at small businesses

After all the hoopla leading up to it, how did Small Business Saturday fare?

About 103 million U.S. shoppers emptied their wallets at smaller merchants on the day promoting shopping at small businesses, beating the pre-U.S. Thanksgiving projection of 89 million, according to this report in the Huffington Post on statistics calculated by American Express, the company behind the initiative.

As well, Amex saw a 23-per-cent increase in card member transactions at small business merchants on that Saturday from the same day the year before, according to the report.

The second annual Small Business Saturday, held Nov. 26, was wedged in between Black Friday and CyberMonday.

Other stats about the day, according to this release: public awareness rose to 65 per cent from 37 per cent in 2010; more than 230 small business advocate groups, public and private organiztions as well as 75 corporations promoted the initiative; more than 2.7 million Facebook users "liked" the Small Business Saturday page, more than double the number the year before; nearly 200,000 tweets were sent out in support; 40,000 people received $25 Amex gift cards courtesy of FedEx to use on the day; more than half a million small business owners used an online tool or promotional materials; and 15,000 small businesses signed up to receive free Facebook advertising.

Liquid Nutrition expands into Middle East

Liquid Nutrition Group Inc. has made its first move to expand overseas by securing its first international license partner in the United Arab Emirates.

The Oakville, Ont.-based chain of stores selling health-conscious beverages, foods and supplements now has half a dozen locations in and around Montreal and, according to the release, has secured franchise partners in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

The company was a focus of our Challenge series in May, when it sought expert help on how best to carry out an aggressive expansion outside of Quebec. Its goal then was to have 350 North American stores open within the next five years.

Now it has taken that reach further afield. Under its new agreement, Liquid Nutrition Middle East will take responsibility for opening new locations and selling franchises across the Middle East and North Africa. The first unit in Abu Dhabi is expected to open next spring, according to the company release.

Footwear from the farm

One woman who grew up believing she could anything she put her mind to now handcrafts custom-made leather sandals, shoes and boots in a small workshop on her northern Michigan farm, according to this Associated Press story carried in the Chicago Tribune.

Sue Swain's biggest challenge was learning how to make shoes. She couldn't find a nearby shoe repair shop willing to take her on as apprentice so she went off to California to learn the basics of sandal-making from a shoemaker, and somewhere in British Columbia undisclosed in the story to learn three-D shoe construction.

Now her business, Toe Togs, includes 10 styles of custom-fit footwear, selling from $150 to $400; she turns out 80 to 100 pairs of shoes a year, according to the story.


Inaugural FabTech event

Show-floor exhibits, discussions about emerging social trends and innovative mobile applications will all be part of FABTech Canada, an inaugural event for the fabricating, metal-forming and welding industries. The event, hosted by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), along with the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, Intl. and the American Welding Society (AWS), takes place March 20 to March 22 in Toronto. For more details, click here.

Energy and environment conference upcoming

EnerCan West 2012: Energy and the Environment, a conference and trade show dedicated to those two topics, will be held in Regina on Feb. 13 and Feb. 14 next year. The conference will feature sessions on cutting-edge innovations, best practices and approaches to all of the related issues, along with research and examples of technology in action. For more information, click here.


Blow-dry bar concept heats up

No haircuts no colouring -- just a wash and a blow-dry style for less than your regular hairdresser was charging you. That's the bit of glamour that Blo offers and has quickly turned into a success, expanding its simple wash and blow-dry only concept from one Vancouver salon to 18 across North America. But can it continue to thrive in an uncertain economy and with competition?


Making sense of buzzwords when you sell a business

When you are selling a business, all of the people around you -- your accountant, lawyer and M&A specialists -- may start talking a language you don't understand. In February, 2010, former columnist John Warrillow offered a cheat sheet on some of the most common buzzwords.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at yourbusiness@globeandmail.com

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