Harford County holiday shoppers may have flooded local retailers Thanksgiving evening and Friday morning for traditional Black Friday sales, but there will be plenty of great pre-Christmas deals to choose from in the shops along the main downtown streets of Bel Air, Aberdeen and Havre de Grace during Small Business Saturday.
"Think about what you have locally, in your community, that you can patronize before you hit those big stores," says Brigitte Peters, tourism and marketing manager for the City of Havre de Grace.
Many downtown business owners in Harford County are offering great deals to attract shoppers the day after Black Friday and beyond.
Small Business Saturday was established by American Express in 2010 to encourage holiday shoppers to visit small businesses.
Tianna VanSpriell, owner of the Barely Used Consignments on Main Street in Bel Air, said she has heard from shoppers that they are skipping the Black Friday crowds and spending Small Business Saturday at their local businesses.
"We want to hear that," VanSpriell, who is also president of the board for the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, said. "We want to hear the people are shopping the main streets all over Maryland and not just here."
Corinne Stiltner, store manager for K&B Bridals in downtown Bel Air, said she has "back-to-back-to-back" appointments scheduled for Saturday.
"I just think that it's a great way to get people into town and shop locally," she said of Small Business Saturday during a fitting for a wedding dress Wednesday.
Shoppers who visit the bridal store can get 10 percent off all purchases made Saturday, but it cannot be combined with other offers, Stiltner said.
VanSpriell her shop has "been slammed" on prior Small Business Saturdays.
She will be offering discounts such as a $10 gift certificate for someone who spends $50 or more; anyone who leaves a donation for the Fallston Animal Rescue Movement is eligible for a 10 percent discount and will be entered into a drawing for a gift basket.
Downtown Bel Air will also be the scene of the Festival of Trees Saturday and Sunday, and the town's annual Christmas parade and tree lighting Sunday.
In Havre de Grace, Paul and Liz Howshall own and operate The Arts Rooms Professional Arts Supplies at 116 N. Washington St.
Paul Howshall said Tuesday visitors can enjoy "more bang for your buck holiday sales" of art supplies, such as purchasing two tubes of a certain type of paint and getting the third one free.
People can also purchase art gift sets for the holidays, for beginning and experienced artists.
"We need to support small businesses because they're basically the foundation of our communities, and the more successful they are the more successful your community is," Nancy Merritt, director of the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce, said.