Forget Black Friday. This week, in between cooking turkeys and baking pies, many businesses owners around Carroll County are getting ready for their biggest shopping holiday of the year — on a Saturday.
"Small Business Saturday is huge not just because of the day itself, but because of what it represents," said Steven Colella, head of economic development in Sykesville and the town's Main Street manager. The event, he said, "really embraces that community aspect of small businesses."
This weekend, Colella said, shops and restaurants all over Sykesville will feature specials and extended hours from Black Friday into Small Business Saturday. Out of the town's 22 retail and restaurant businesses, about 80 percent will participate, he said. It's the kickoff to the holiday season, he said.
Started in 2010 by American Express, the national event aims to encourage consumers around the country to shop at smaller, locally owned businesses. According to the Small Business Saturday Insights Survey released by the National Federation of Independent Business in 2014, half of U.S. shoppers reported being aware of the event, which takes place every year on the day after Black Friday. Among those who were aware of Small Business Saturday, 82 percent said they planned to shop at a small, independently owned business that day, according to the survey.
That translated to about $14.3 billion spent at small businesses on Small Business Saturday that year, according to American Express.
At Blossom and Basket Boutique in Mount Airy's historic district, customers first introduced the store's owners to the concept of Small Business Saturday, store co-owner Rene Bonde Shiffler said.
"We had customers come in and say they actually were shopping for Small Business Saturday before we knew what Small Business Saturday was," Shiffler said.
This year, she said, Blossom and Basket will host a buy-two-get-one-free sale on some items Saturday. Shoppers will also be invited to enjoy refreshments like hot cider while they shop, she said.
While some other local stores are extending their hours, Blossom and Basket will operate on its regular schedule, Shiffler said, though she still expects the day to be one of the busiest of the year. For the past couple of years, she said, the store has done triple the amount of business on Small Business Saturday that it usually does on a typical Saturday.
Making sales is nice, she said, but seeing the community's desire to support the store is another reason Shiffler said she likes shopping events geared toward patronizing local businesses.
"They really come in on a mission," she said of the customers who shop at her store on Small Business Saturday.
In Westminster, Kimberly Brooke Green is hoping Small Business Saturday will help serve as an introduction between the Westminster community and her store, Cultivated, which she opened with co-owner Tiombe Paige in October in the rear of the building at 63 E. Main St.
"It's a huge opportunity," Green said.
For the store's first Small Business Saturday, Green said they will feature free refreshments, door-buster deals, sales and pre-packaged gift ideas. Cultivated, a boutique that features a mix of decor, apparel and gifts, will also stay open until 10 p.m., something Green said she hopes can draw shoppers out after the town's Miracle on Main Street parade and tree lighting, which will run from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Saturday shopping event, she said, offers a balance to the frenzied feel of Black Friday.