Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Forget Black Friday--it's Small Business Saturday!


Where will you find me at 5 AM on Black Friday? Dragging myself out of bed, driving across town to the mall, and waiting in line for an irresistible deal on a digital camera? Nope. I will be sound asleep in my bed, probably with the dog at my feet and the cat on my head.

While I delight in spending hours poring over the Thanksgiving Day doorbuster deal ads and I love the thrill of racing hordes of desperate holiday shoppers to the hottest item in the store, this year I will be sitting out Black Friday (and its recent companion, Cyber Monday). On Saturday November 27, I will be joining almost 900,000 other folks across the nation in support of the first ever Small Business Saturday. American Express has declared the Saturday after Thanksgiving as "a day to support the local businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country." Visit the Small Business Saturday website or join the movement on Facebook to learn more.

Besides supporting local businesses, I'll also be avoiding the crazed mall parking lots in favor of a healthy stroll through my neighborhood. For me, shopping locally isn't just
about supporting local businesses and avoiding the stale mall air. It's about supporting the people who help keep our communities healthy and vibrant. Without local businesses, our historic buildings, commercial districts, and larger communities wouldn't survive. Small businesses often rehabilitate historic commercial spaces and adaptively reuse other types of historic buildings, helping to preserve the streetscape that makes a village or a neighborhood appealing, walkable, and attractive to locals and visitors alike.

Not to mention that when you shop at local stores, you can find unique gifts that will make you everyone's favorite gift giver. Take the gift basket I assembled last year for a White Elephant gathering--I lived in Kansas at the time so I created a distinctive package with the following: a six pack of beer from Tallgrass, the local microbrewery in Manhattan, KS; a jar of hot pickles from Topeka's famous C.W. Porubsky's Deli and Tavern; a block of cheese from the Alma Creamery; and a sampling of tasty treats from a local candy shop in downtown Topeka. Who could possibly ask for anything more delightful (or tasty)?

Granted, I haven't even begun my shopping list yet but this year I will be applying the same theme to western New York--perhaps chocolates from Stever's, a growler from Rohrbach, jam from Bauman Farms, sausage from Swan Market. For those who might not be as food oriented as I, consider spending your Small Business Saturday at Parkleigh, Craft Company No. 6, the House of Guitars, Stars & Stripes The Flag Store, or Cinema Theater. And don't forget all the villages and towns outside of the greater Rochester area that also have unique local shops! For more inspiration, check out City Newspaper's Holiday Guide 2010.

Caitlin Meives, Preservation Planner with the Landmark Society, will be spending her Small Business Saturday shopping on Park Avenue and Monroe Avenue in Rochester, NY.