Small Business Saturday keeps big bucks in Oakland County

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published November 19, 2014

 Many downtown shopping districts around metro Detroit will have extra activities and promotions planned on Small Business Saturday, which lands this year on Nov. 29.

Many downtown shopping districts around metro Detroit will have extra activities and promotions planned on Small Business Saturday, which lands this year on Nov. 29.

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OAKLAND COUNTY — After the scraps of leftover turkey and mashed potatoes have been tucked into the fridge, it’s like you can feel the seasons instantly shift: Thanksgiving is over, and the time for holiday shopping has begun.

After the retail frenzy that has long been known as Black Friday, many shoppers will opt to head out on Nov. 29 instead for the fourth season of Small Business Saturday. Started in 2010, the American Express-inspired event encourages shoppers to take their gift-giving bucks to local merchants in their own communities and support independently owned stores, restaurants and businesses.

The shopping tradition hasn’t been around as long as its predecessor, but it’s certainly catching on — particularly in communities with downtown areas and shopping districts, where unique, independent retailers are working hard to stay open, and neighbors are invested in their success.

So has the spirit of going small helped those independent retailers at all the past few years?

Many say yes, according to Annette Knowles, executive director of the Farmington Downtown Development Authority.

“I know The Vines Flower and Garden Shop did really well, and so did Tre Sorelli — they had a really good day last year,” said Knowles. “It does make a difference, and I think it just points to kind of like the changes in people making conscious decisions where they want to spend their dollars. They want to support local businesses, support small businesses.”

Since the campaign has proven beneficial to businesses in the area, the Farmington DDA is planning to ramp up its promotional efforts this year, asking businesses to put in a little extra this year in hopes of getting a lot back.

“Last year, we just promoted it, and this year we’re doing the same — posters, balloons — but because the businesses said there was a benefit from participating, we decided to circle the wagons and put together something a bit more substantive.”

Most shops in downtown Farmington, she said, will have snacks available throughout the day Nov. 29, and some may have demonstrations, activities or samplings going on, as well. And of course, there will likely be plenty of bargains to find.

The participating businesses have also contributed gift certificates and other merchandise to be given away as door prizes. Customers who spend $20 or more on Small Business Saturday can get a special card stamped, which they can submit later for the drawing.

“If you win, it’s just a nice little something extra. Nobody has to know you won it while gift shopping, and you can keep it for yourself. We won’t tell,” said Knowles with a laugh.

Downtown Rochester will also be jumping on the small business bandwagon this year with special activities for the whole family that Saturday, according to Rochester DDA Events Coordinator Stephanie Hellebuyck.

“We loosely participated the past couple years, but this is the first year we’re offering something to do,” she said.

From 11 a.m.-2 p.m. that day, visitors can hop on for a free carriage ride through the downtown, leaving from East Fourth and Main Street.

Hellebuyck said the DDA decided to do more in its third year promoting the Small Business Saturday campaign after businesses said it seemed to make a positive impact.

“Word is catching on. It was originally brought up to us by one of our businesses, and we’ve been participating the last couple of years. It took a couple of years to catch on, but I definitely think it’s become a national holiday now. … The consumer really knows about it now, and they look forward to it and it’s been really successful.”

For more information on Small Business Saturday, visit www.AmericanExpress.com/shopsmall.

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