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SBA official, in Bethlehem, touts small businesses’ impact on community

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Metta Relaxation owner Stephanie Bealer (left) discusses her business with representatives from the Small Business Administration and Small Business Development Center at Lehigh University during a tour of her Bethlehem business on Tuesday. (Photo/Melinda Rizzo)
Metta Relaxation owner Stephanie Bealer (left) discusses her business with representatives from the Small Business Administration and Small Business Development Center at Lehigh University during a tour of her Bethlehem business on Tuesday. (Photo/Melinda Rizzo)

Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday.

Figures released by American Express for 2016 reported about 112 million people nationwide shopped local on Small Business Saturday, spending about $15.4 billion. Small Business Saturday this year is three days away.

“When you deal with a small business, you are supporting people in the community, and people like to support local business,” said Antonio Leta, director for the U.S. Small Business Administration Eastern Pennsylvania District in King of Prussia.

While many think retail when considering their holiday shopping, a Bethlehem wellness and therapeutic services business was the focal point of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s local efforts to promote Small Business Saturday shopping.

To that end, Leta and other officials were in Bethlehem on Tuesday promoting small businesses. Representatives from the SBA and Small Business Development Center at Lehigh University toured Metta Relaxation Co. at 618 W. Broad St. in the city.

Blocks from Bethlehem’s historic downtown shopping district, Metta owner Stephanie Bealer said many consumers have shifted to buying services as gifts, rather than “things.”

Bealer’s use of Lehigh SBDC office made the connection for Tuesday’s SBA visit. She received services to help with finances, or “doing the numbers,” for her 2 ½-year-old business.

SBDC offers free and low-cost resources to help small businesses grow.

“Often, small-business owners are so busy in their business, they don’t take the time to work on their business,” Leta said.

According to Leta, about two-thirds of all new jobs are generated by small businesses.

Bealer’s business offers therapeutic services such as reflexology massage therapy and float therapy, or floating.

“Successful small businesses have a unique niche,” Leta said.

Five custom-designed float rooms provide large tubs filled with a 50/50 ratio of fresh water to Epsom salts, which creates a zero gravity environment.

Bealer said floating helps those suffering from stress and physical ailments. Clients include athletes and those bothered by chronic conditions and suffering from acute or chronic pain.

“I get referrals from local therapists for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression,” Bealer said.

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