Black Friday isn’t what it used to be. Online shopping and retailers now offering doorbusters and deep Black Friday discounts days or weeks ahead of time have mellowed the madness that once defined traditional day-after-Thanksgiving shopping.

Still, the National Retail Federation anticipates that Black Friday will remain the busiest shopping day of the Thanksgiving weekend, with more than 115 million people surveyed expected to venture out to the malls — the ones that are left anyway — and the big box stores, trying to find the best deals on gifts for the holidays.


More interesting, though, is that of the roughly 71 million people expected to go shopping on Saturday, the second-busiest shopping day of the weekend, more than three-fourths said they will do so specifically to support Small Business Saturday.

For the second year, small businesses in Carroll will hand out passports encouraging residents to explore local offerings during Small Business Saturday.

For those unfamiliar, Small Business Saturday encourages patronizing brick-and-mortar stores that are small and local like the ones that can be found on many of Carroll County’s Main Streets. Last year, consumers spent $15.4 billion nationwide at locally owned stores and restaurants on Small Business Saturday, according to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express, which partner to promote the day.

There are plenty of reasons to shop local, small businesses this Saturday, and year-round.

For one, many of these merchants offer goods that you often can’t find shopping online or at a big box store. Take Unwined Candles in Sykesville, for example, which makes handcrafted candles from reused wine bottles, or Created and Company in Manchester, which sells a number of unique, artisan gifts, to name a few.

Shopping local also means your money stays in your community and helps stimulate the economy.

Rather than traveling to a mall in another county or the outlets in Pennsylvania, money spent at local independent businesses in Carroll is more likely to stay in Carroll. More tax dollars stay local, too, contributing to schools, roads and public safety services. Small businesses hire local workers, so when they do well and need to employ more people, your purchases will help create new jobs. Most local businesses are also more likely to give back in their neighborhoods. And many will partner with nonprofit organizations, schools, and local Boy and Girl Scout troops or rec leagues for fundraisers.

If these aren’t enough reasons, Carroll County downtown businesses have partnered to offer additional incentive through the Small Business Saturday Passport promotion for the second straight year.

Beginning Saturday, Nov. 25, and through Sunday, Dec. 3, shoppers can pick up a passport and collect stickers when they make a purchase from more than 140 participating small retailers and restaurants, all located on or near downtown Main Streets. Make purchases at eight different locations, then turn a completed passport into any town hall or public library branch by Monday, Dec. 4, and you’ll be entered in a random drawing to win a $100 gift certificate good at any of the participating businesses. Ten gift certificates will be awarded, and the drawing will be live on the Carroll County Downtowns Facebook page at 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7.

While you’re shopping local and getting your passport stamped between now and next weekend, be sure to grab a bite at any number of local downtown restaurants that are participating in the promotion and stick around for community activities such as the Miracle on Main Street parade in Westminster on Nov. 25, and tree lightings in Hampstead on Dec. 1; and Mount Airy, Sykesville and Taneytown on Dec. 2.

Carroll County’s municipalities have a lot to offer. Small Business Saturday is a great time to see for yourself.