TRAVERSE CITY — Nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales is a lesser-known shopping event: Small Business Saturday.
The event started a few years ago when American Express offered money back to its cardholders when they shopped at participating small businesses, is aimed at getting customers to spend money at small businesses, not just big box stores.
The event has grown beyond the credit card company and now local businesses offer a variety of discounts and specials to shoppers on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
“I think Small Business Saturday is a great way to not only recognize small businesses, but for people in the community to see what small businesses are even out there, because a lot of times you don’t even know small businesses exist,” Judy Izard, the owner of Peppercorn in downtown Traverse City, said.
Izard, who offered specials on Small Business Saturday for the past few years, said the event often draws more customers downtown than usual, and she’s seen an uptick in sales.
She thinks the event helps bring locals downtown.
“So many times I hear from customers that come downtown because they have a friend in town and want to go downtown and shop, and when they do they say, ‘Wow, I never knew downtown was like this. I haven’t been here in 20 years,” Izard said.
The event has gained traction over the past few years.
“We’ve seen a major influx of business over the last two years on that day,” said Jeff Joubran, the owner of Sweet Pea. “It’s taken a year or two to become known.”
The event has grown so much that Traverse City Mayor Michael Estes this month issued his first proclamation recognizing the day, an effort to help promote local businesses.
Store owners hope shoppers held off on some of their holiday purchases until today.
“To me it seems like (shoppers should) keep it local and shop small,” Coryn Briggs, director of marketing for Black Star Farms said. “There’s such a great diversity of businesses in Michigan, you can get something for everyone on your guest list.”
Some shop owners think the event helps small businesses at a time that they’re normally overshadowed by national companies.
“It seems like Black Friday is about the banding together of the big box stores so the small business gets left out on that day,” said Morsels Espresso & Edibles owner Misha Neidorfler. “Saturday has become the day of small businesses banding together and reaching out to people to remind them that shopping small is fun.”