It’s the season of shopping. Annually, shoppers brave crowds and hunt for the best deals at big-box stores on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year.
But shoppers may forget about small businesses the day after Thanksgiving.
Small Business Saturday is perhaps the antidote to Black Friday: a day for businesses with few employees and small marketing budgets to get the attention from shoppers they need.
“Yesterday was huge for the corporate craziness,” said Joshua Scott, who owns Time Bomb Collectibles at 600 W. Garland Ave. “It’s nice to remember the mom-and-pops.”
The Garland Business District partnered with Gesa Credit Union on Saturday to organize the many shops and restaurants in the district for the big day. There were special deals and free tote bags, and shoppers could receive stamps in a passport at participating stores. Shoppers who filled their passports could get their names in a drawing for a gift card.
“With the presence of online shopping, it can be a challenge for small businesses,” said Julie Shepard-Hall, president of the Garland Business District. “It’s important to keep our small businesses thriving. I love seeing people on the street, walking, laughing and shopping. They come to Garland and enjoy themselves.”
Chef Kadra Evans has worked at North Hill, a full-service restaurant at 706 W. Garland, for about three months. The restaurant opened about a year ago, and Evans hoped to draw in diners Saturday with $5 sheet-pan chocolate chip pancakes, hot buttered rum, free hot chocolate for the kids and ice cream from Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle, just one block away.
Evans said that when shoppers support small businesses, “you’re supporting the people who own the business.” Shoppers also can find handmade or hard-to-find gifts.
American Express has helped organize the event for the past 10 years. The credit card company supplies businesses with balloons, tote bags, advice and other things business owners need for the day.
According to Amex, for every dollar spent at a small business, 67 cents stay in the community.
Scott Chumley and his wife, Vickie, were shopping Saturday at Ragpicker & Sons at 606 W. Garland, hoping to find something they couldn’t find anywhere else.
“We’re never looking for anything in particular,” Scott said.
“It’s the thrill of the hunt for the treasure,” Vickie added.
“I collect vintage VWs,” said Scott, a Volkswagen enthusiast. “She collects everything else.”
The store’s owner, Rick Owen, said he had been looking forward to the day: Last year, Ragpicker & Sons was packed with shoppers. On Small Business Saturday, he throws in a free box of incense with every purchase.
“I give everybody a good deal,” Owen said.
Renee Taylor opened Over the Moon Relics, at 604 W. Garland, on Oct. 1. She hoped Small Business Saturday would help get the word out about her shop, which sells records, old toys, Spokane memorabilia and vintage radios that still work.
“You can find something that brings back a wonderful childhood memory, or any memory,” Taylor said.
At Time Bomb Collectibles, Mike Anzalone and his wife, Leann, were hoping to find tables.
“I just like to support the local businesses,” Anzalone said, adding that he tries to do so year-round – not just on Small Business Saturday.
The two looked through boxes of old license plates, checked out vintage bicycles and finally settled on a magazine, a 1990 issue of “Dune Buggies and Hot VWs,” which they bought for their niece.
Donna Prothe, who usually works on weekends, was out shopping to celebrate a rare Saturday off and find little items to give as Christmas stocking stuffers. She said small businesses offer better customer service.
“It’s just so great to support people,” she said.
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