While Black Friday has spanned the whole of November in recent years, local businesses still look forward to Small Business Saturday.
They may not have the sales of Walmart and Target, but independent operations in local communities thrive after Thanksgiving, when people shop in preparation for the holiday season. And they are beyond grateful for the support from these communities.
Just ask Debra Rivera, owner of Ayers Little Bee Bookshop.
“We love Small Business Saturday here at Little Bee Bookshop!” Rivera said ahead of Thanksgiving. “In smaller stores we often can’t keep up in terms of stock and sales – so it’s always a pleasure to see people come out and support us anyway.”
“Those who shop (on Small Business Saturday), those who really value local, independent businesses and want to keep those businesses afloat, keep their money in the community, they’re so important these days,” she said.
Stephen Dahlgren, managing director of The Barn Door in Pepperell, would agree.
“Regardless of whether they’re shopping (at The Barn Door) or not, I strongly encourage people to get out on Saturday,” he said. “It’s an experience of celebrating and supporting smaller businesses, independent, local businesses – everyone says ‘shop local’, but going out and finding a local business that in turn supports local products is what we need now. “
Despite their distinct clientele, both Rivera and Dahlgren reported significant increases in traffic and spending leading up to Thanksgiving and the weekend. They also said they expect that boost to continue into December as consumers continue to shop ahead of Hanukkah, Christmas and other celebrations into the end of 2022.
“I think this is the best time of year because that’s when all the fun products come out,” Dahlgren said. “People are excited, whether they’re shopping for Thanksgiving, their own ‘Friendsgiving’, the holiday season or whatever – it’s just a very fun environment to be in and we’ll be here to help. “
“It’s that time of year when people shop ’til they drop — and (local business owners) are just as excited as (consumers),” Rivera said. “Obviously we’re happy when customers, old and new, come into the store anytime, but to be in a community that cares so much and is doing everything possible to support local businesses (Small Business Saturday) is just so much better.” “
While none of the stores are expected to host special Saturday sales for small businesses, Dahlgren said The Barn Door is expected to host a representative from Berkshire Brewing on Saturday, where customers can sample the brewery’s upcoming holiday offering. Likewise, Rivera said she’s stocked the store with new, locally made and “carefully selected” books and other potential gifts in time for the upcoming holiday season.
Regardless of how much they spend, both Rivera and Dahlgren asked anyone planning to shop this weekend to do what they can to support local outfits.
“I feel extremely humbled and very comforted by the welcome I have received since we opened (in Ayer) in (August) 2021 – and I would love to continue that and continue to see that kind of warmth and caring this weekend if Die People shop here or other local businesses,” Rivera said.
“If you can, go out on Saturday and find something fun, find something local and support these people,” Dahlgren said. “You deserve (the patronage of the people) more than anyone else.”