On November 30, a unique group of 30-plus entrepreneurs will come together at Vogue Nightclub on Saginaw Street to provide the Pontiac community (and neighbors) with a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.
Presented by Passion Expo Events, in partnership with the City of Pontiac, Oakland County Flagstar Bank, Main Street Pontiac, Divine Twenty-Six and T. Ramsey and Associates, Pontiac’s 2nd annual Small Business Saturday Pop-up event will offer something for consumers of all ages, including clothing and accessories, cosmetics and skincare, products and services, and more.
“[I started Passion Expo Events] to give non-brick-and-mortar [entrepreneurs] a space to display their passion, whether it’s selling their goods, or displaying the services that they offer in a community setting,” says Davida Reed, owner of Divine Twenty-Six, a Pontiac-based women’s online boutique.
Without a physical location, Pontiac’s non-brick-and-mortar community has traditionally been left at a disadvantage when it comes to participating in Small Business Saturday -- that is, until now.
“A lot of people shop on Black Friday, but knowing Small Business Saturday is for those small businesses, people will probably delegate funds like, ‘I’m going to spend such and such amount with small businesses, in addition to my Black Friday shopping, or I’ll treat myself on Small Business Saturday,’” says Reed.
In addition to great deals and holiday steals, this year’s event will feature food, live music, performances from local youth groups, vendor demonstrations, raffles, access to entrepreneurial tools and resources, and more.
Looking for a little motivation to shop small on November 30?
Now through Monday, Nov. 25, Oakland County is encouraging all entrepreneurs to register for their annual Small Business Saturday contest for a chance to win $1,000. Shoppers who patronize registered businesses on November 30 will be entered for a chance to win $5,000!
“From a business standpoint, you have that promotion of your business on the website. People are exposed to Small Business Saturday. I think in our community, it wasn’t really a thing, and it’s now becoming a thing, so incorporating that in the City of Pontiac, more businesses are in tune and more prone to participate,” says Reed.
Passion Expo Events, however, is not a new concept to the Pontiac community. The biannual event, presented by parent company Divine Twenty-Six, is typically held every spring and fall. Past events have brought together upward of 50-plus vendors in one space to display their passions, build and/or grow their brand awareness and network.
“The networking is vital,” says Reed. “There have been some vendor events where I didn’t make a dollar, but I networked with people who brought me thousands of dollars in the future.”
Pontiac’s blossoming small business community is a unique mix of community staples like Avon Donuts and Goldner Walsh Nursery to Downtown newcomers Exferimentation Brewing Company and E&K Arts and More. And, then there’s there non-brick-and-mortar entrepreneurs, who operate online businesses, participate in vendor events and/or the increasingly popular pop-ups happening around town.
“Pop-ups are significant [in Pontiac] because they happen inside of other small businesses, and so, not only are you bringing your customers to support you, but they’re also getting exposed to the business that you’re in, or even the space that you’re in that could be open for lease or rental,” says Reed. “It’s kind of like a double promotion on both ends.”
Thanks, in part, to new initiatives like small business incubator Build Institute and grant funding provided by Flagstar Bank, coupled with the collaborative efforts of city and county officials, in partnership with Main Street Pontiac, Reed says aspiring and existing entrepreneurs have better access to the tools and resources that are essential to help foster Pontiac’s growing small business community.
“There are a lot of new entrepreneurs. A lot of people are following their dreams, doing what they’re passionate about. And I guess who was one of those people who felt like, ‘Maybe I should do it, maybe I shouldn’t,’” says Reed. “I sat on my business two years before I actually launched, and part of that was I was afraid, I didn’t have the resources I needed, and I didn’t really see anybody doing it.”
Reed encourages people to shop small any day of the year; and, says events like the Passion Expo is a great platform to establish a long-term connection -- beyond transactional -- between the small business owner and new customers, long after the event is over.
“Being there, and being exposed to the small businesses, you’re going to leave with a resource because there’s some people who offer services, not necessarily goods, or you’re going to leave with a shopping experience that will make you want to return and patronize that vendor,” says Reed.
Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, or new small business owners?
“Do it only if you’re passionate about it. Give it your all. Always go with your first mind. And do the work,” says Reed. “Do not expect it to be easy. Do not expect to make money every month. And expect to spend more money in the beginning, than you are actually getting in revenue.
“You have to put in that hard work.”
Are you a small business owner in the Metro Detroit area looking to display your passion on Small Business Saturday? Vendor registration is open through Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2019.