Towson businesses tout shopping 'small' this weekend

Towson-area retailers are asking shoppers to think small this weekend as they head out looking for holiday gifts as part of Small Business Saturday.

Since its 2010 introduction by credit card company American Express and a national small business trade organization, the annual event has been adopted by local governments and small businesses nationwide as a way to bring customers into locally-owned retail stores and restaurants following the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

“Everybody knows about Black Friday,” said Mike O’Halloran, Maryland state director of the National Federation of Independent Business of the day after Thanksgiving, when shoppers flood stores for deals. “The ‘big box’ retailers flood everyone with commercials but small businesses deserve their own day.”

The Annapolis-based chapter of the small business advocacy group represents more than 4,000 owners of small businesses in Maryland.

Though the morning after Thanksgiving may be the official start of the holiday shopping season, O’Halloran said more and more shoppers are bypassing large retailers and choosing to shop locally.

In 2016, the number of shoppers who said they shopped “small” on the Saturday following Thanksgiving was up 13 percent from 2015, O’Halloran said.

Towson-area business owners said the promotion helps bring customers in on days when they might otherwise lose business to bigger, national chains. Salons, running stores and restaurants are encouraging shoppers to keep their dollars in the community and support the “little guy,” according to All About Me Salon and Say Spa general manager Jenny Tomaszewski.

The downtown Towson salon, at 212 Washington Ave., does not participate in Black Friday, opting instead to allow employees to spend the day with their families.

“Typically, when you think of Small Business Saturday you think of going to an actual store,” Tomaszewski said. “We try to do something because we are a small business but [immediately] after the holidays we’re closed.”

In 2016, the salon made its first “real push” to participate in Small Business Saturday with a gift card promotion that it will continue this year, she said. For every $50 in gift cards purchased, customers receive $10 to use in the store in January.

“It was a huge hit and it really helped us with January,” Tomaszewski said. “After the holiday, people might not want to spend money, but they will come in and use their gift cards.”

Shoppers who stop into THB Bagels & Deli, at 16 Allegheny Ave., on Saturday will receive a $3 credit for downloading the shop’s new app on an iPhone or Android phone.

Restore and Decor, at 29 Allegheny Ave. will offer refreshments and a gift card raffle from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Le Rosa, a new home decor and gift store at 104 E. Pennsylvania Ave., will offer 20 percent off the store’s inventory.

Charm City Run, a greater Baltimore chain of eight specialty running stores, including one in Timonium, will host a group run and breakfast in hopes of bringing in shoppers to “shop small,” according to marketing director Ashley Lines.

“It’s one of our busy days of the year,” Lines said. “The whole Small Business Saturday movement has been really great for all small business in the area and definitely for us. Even if you don’t shop small at Charm City Run on Saturday we hope you support some of the other small businesses out there.”

The promotion benefits the business by bringing people into the store where they might shop for gifts, Lines said, adding that it’s also part of the store’s mission of being a part of the greater community.

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