Small Business Saturday is a recent addition to the shopping frenzy leading up to the holiday season and was created to encourage shoppers to spend money locally.
Shoppers are being handed something new this year. Businesses are handing out passports to paying customers that encourage shoppers to stop by locally owned businesses this holiday season. Upon visiting 10 different businesses and obtaining stickers for their passports after making a purchase, shoppers use their passport as an entry into a drawing for merchandise collected from the small businesses.
“It is a lesser-known event to Black Friday because most small businesses can’t compete with the frenzy and the mayhem that is Black Friday,” said Mila Gendron, manager at Wilderness Supply. “So it is a day to celebrate shopping local and the effect small businesses have on the community where our funds stay locally and where we hire local employees.”
Wilderness Supply is giving back to the community this year by donating all proceeds earned during Small Business Saturday to the Regional Food Distribution Association.
Gendron said Wilderness Supply has worked with the RFDA in the past and she is confident that the support it receives will go towards helping those most in need.
“We all need to eat,” she said. “It’s an essential part of our lives and too many people don’t have access to that. We wanted to the help them.”
“I think it’s important to support our community because that is who supports us, without our community we have nothing, so it makes sense for us to give back to them when we can.”
Brendan Carlin, community services manager with the RFDA, said he wasn’t even aware of Small Business Saturday before being approached by Wilderness Supply, but he is grateful to see a local business reaching out to help fill area food banks.
“For us its important to have any partners that make it easier for our supporters to donate or support our cause,” he said. “Small businesses are such a big part of our community and we love small business and we are appreciative for the support that they have shown us.”
This is the busiest time of year for the RDFA, Carlin continued, as more people are forced to turn to food banks during the holiday season.
Complimentary gift-wrapping took place adjacent to the band area, and tips were accepted and donated to Peoples’ Self-Help Housing. The nonprofit organization develops affordable housing and community facilities for low-income households and homeownership opportunities for working families and special populations such as seniors, veterans, the disabled and the formerly homeless.
“But it is also a time that we also receive a lot of support and donations as well, so we are looking forward to another good holiday season for us and our member food banks,” Carlin said.
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In addition to all the proceeds being donated to the RFDA, customers are also encouraged bring food items for donation as well. The RFDA will be at Wilderness Supply on Saturday until 5 p.m. Gendron said food items will still be accepted at Wilderness Supply for donation to the RFDA at anytime.
Small Business Saturday has only been around for eight years, but the initiative is already raking in big money in the U.S.
Some 67 million Americans are planning to shop on Small Business Saturday, according to a report from the National Retail Federation and consumer data company Prosper Insights & Analytics.
LaRese Purnell is the founder of the non-profit 'The Real Black Friday,' and has been supporting small black businesses for more than five years. Black business owners are a group that's been unrepresented for decades. One in 5 black-owned businesses closes within the first year of opening due to a lack of resources, which is why Purnell gives them financial and marketing tools, branding advice and more.
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If recent years are anything to go by, the initiative is proving to be a big boon for small businesses.
Small Business Saturday was launched by American Express in 2010 as a means of encouraging customers to support small businesses in the aftermath of the recession.
The following year, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the holiday, as businesses across the U.S. flocked to take advantage of the movement.
The initiative was enthusiastically promoted by the administration of former U.S. president Barack Obama.
St. Pete shops make the most of Small Business Saturday
“From the mom-and-pop storefront shops that anchor Main Street to the high-tech startups that keep America on the cutting edge, small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of our Nations promise,” the White House said in a statement in 2011.
"It was always the Thursday and when American Express came out with the whole promotion for Small Business Saturday, we thought, 'What a great marriage,'" said organizer Laura Ackley.
Local businesses take part in Small Business Saturday
“Through events such as Small Business Saturday, we keep our local economies strong and help maintain an American economy that can compete and win in the 21st century.”
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The Trump administration has followed suit, urging Americans to support local businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Forty-one per cent of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers surveyed by the National Retail Federation said they would be making time to shop on Small Business Saturday. A majority of them said they would do so specifically to support small businesses.
Between 2010 and 2017, Small Business Saturday spending was estimated at $85 billion, according to American Express surveys. That’s an average of over $10 billion per day over the eight days.
As the sole business owner, Golomb, 35, opened her store four years ago after she received appraise from people on social media for crafting creative bows and head bands for children, which now range from $5 to $20.
Local shops hoping for big sales on Small Business Saturday
There are over 30 million small businesses — defined as having 500 employees or less — in the U.S., according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.