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Hooray for Small Business in Alexandria
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Hooray for Small Business in Alexandria

Celebrating community role of small businesses.

SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet is welcomed as she arrives at Hooray for Books in Old Town on Small Business Saturday.

SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet is welcomed as she arrives at Hooray for Books in Old Town on Small Business Saturday. Photo by Louise Krafft.

On 2012’s Small Business Saturday, President Barack Obama visited One More Page Books in Arlington and set a trend for politicians in the Washington area: small Northern Virginia bookstores are the place to be on Nov 29. That tradition continued in Hooray for Books! on this year’s Small Business Saturday when U.S. Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet , U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, and local politicians converged to emphasize their patronage of the King Street bookstore.

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U.S. Sen. Mark Warner introduces SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet at Hooray for Books on Small Business Saturday.

“It was very crowded,” said owner Ellen Klein, “but it was very nice to get that sort of acknowledgement.”

Klein says her store tries to interact heavily with the community, notably including a day on the riverboat Cherry Blossom with children’s book author Chris Van Dusen. One of the store’s most popular programs is arranging visits from authors either to the store or to local schools, a service Klein reminds parents that larger retailers don’t usually provide.

Miguel Ayala from the Small Business Administration said that these kinds of activities from small businesses are what establish the atmosphere of a city.

“They create the natural character and charm of a neighborhood,” said Ayala. “When we are able to help people start a business, it’s beneficial not just to themselves but to the community.”

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Hooray for Books owner Ellen Klein talks with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, Mayor Bill Euille and Chamber of Commerce President John Long.

Ayala said there are financial advantages to shopping small as well.

“With any small business, restaurants in particular, there’s a higher ratio that goes back into the local community,” said Ayala. “They pay locally for their bills. They pay locally for their groceries. When there’s a corporate entity involved, that money goes up and doesn’t turn around as quickly.”

Klein said that Alexandria locals are usually dedicated to helping small businesses. Hooray for Books! is currently in undergoing an expansion and renovation of the store and just concluded a fundraising campaign on indiegogo.com to help finance a new cash register, computer system, and supplies to furnish the new expanded store. The campaign raised over $5,000.

“More and more, parents want to buy local,” said Klein. “We can’t do stuff like that without community support.”