While Black Friday has extended throughout the month of November in recent years, local businesses are still enthusiastic about Small Business Saturday.
They may not have the sales of Walmart and Target, but independent operations in local communities thrive after Thanksgiving as people shop in preparation for the holiday season. And they are more than grateful for the support of those communities.
Just ask Debra Rivera, owner of Ayer’s Little Bee Bookstore.
“We love Small Business Saturdays here at Little Bee Bookshop!” Rivera said before the Thanksgiving holiday. “At smaller stores, we can’t compete most of the time on inventory and sales, so it’s always a joy to see people come out and support us despite that.”
“Those shoppers (small business Saturdays), the ones who really value local, independent businesses and want those businesses to float, keep their money within the community, are so important these days,” she said.
Stephen Dahlgren, general manager of The Barn Door in Pepperell, would agree.
“Whether they shop (at The Barn Door) or not, I highly recommend people go out on Saturday,” she said. “It’s an experience, to celebrate and support small businesses, independent local businesses – everyone says ‘shop local’, but to go out and find a local business who, in turn, supports local produce, that’s what we need right now.”
Despite their distinct clientele, both Rivera and Dahlgren saw significant increases in traffic and spending ahead of Thanksgiving and the weekend. They also said they expect the push to continue into December as consumers continue to shop ahead of Hanukkah, Christmas and other celebrations to close out 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 ‘Friendgiving,’ the holidays, or whatever. It’s just been a really fun environment to be in, and we’ll be here to help.”
“It’s that time of year when people shop till they drop and (local business owners) are just as excited as (consumers),” Rivera said. “Of course, we love to see new and old customers coming to the store anytime, but being in a community that cares so much and does everything possible to support local businesses, (Small Business Saturday) just feels so much better.”
While neither store is expected to host specific sales for Small Business Saturday, Dahlgren said The Barn Door is expected to host a Berkshire Brewing representative on Saturday, where customers can sample the brewery’s upcoming holiday lineup. Similarly, Rivera said she has populated the store with new, locally produced 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 have asked anyone planning to shop this weekend to do what they can to support local clothing.
“I am 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 like this, continue to see that kind of warmth and care this weekend if people do shop here or at any other local business,” Rivera said.
“If you can, go out on Saturday and find something fun, find something local and support those people,” Dahlgren said. “They deserve (people’s patronage) more than anyone.”