While Black Friday has extended throughout the month of November in recent years, local businesses are still excited about Small Business Saturday.
They might not have the sales of Walmart and Target, but independent operations in local communities thrive post-Thanksgiving as people shop in preparation for the holiday season. And they are more than appreciative of the support from those communities.
Just ask Debra Rivera, owner of Ayer’s Little Bee Bookshop.
“We love Small Business Saturday here at Little Bee Bookshop!” Rivera said prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. “Smaller stores, we can’t compete a lot of the time as far as stock and sales are concerned — so it’s always a joy to see people come out and support us in spite of that.”
“Those that do shop (on Small Business Saturday), those that really value local, independent businesses and want to those businesses afloat, keep their money within the community, they 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 get out on Saturday,” he said. “It’s an experience, to celebrate and support smaller businesses, independent, local businesses — everyone says ‘shop local,’ but to go out and find a local business that, in turn, supports local products, that’s what we need right now.”
Despite their distinct clientele, both Rivera and Dahlgren reported a significant uptick in traffic and spending ahead of Thanksgiving and the weekend. They also said they expect that boost to carry 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 the year, because it’s when all the fun products come out,” Dahlgren said. “People are excited, whether they’re shopping for Thanksgiving, their own ‘Friendsgiving,’ the holidays or whatever else — it’s just been a very fun environment to be in and we’ll be here to help them out.”
“It’s that time of year where people shop until they drop — and (local business owners) are just as excited as (consumers) are,” Rivera said. “Of course, we love to see customers old and new come down to the store any time, but to be in a community that cares so much and does everything it can to support local businesses, (Small Business Saturday) is just that much better .”
While neither store is expected to host sales specific to Small Business Saturday, Dahlgren said The Barn Door is expected to host a representative of Berkshire Brewing on Saturday, where customers could sample the brewery’s coming holiday lineup. Likewise, Rivera said she has populated the store with new, locally-made and “thoughtfully selected” books and other potential gifts in time for the coming holiday season.
Regardless of how much they spend, both Rivera and Dahlgren asked anyone and everyone that plans to shop this weekend to do what they could to support local outfits.
“I feel extremely humble and very comforted by the welcome I’ve received since we opened (in Ayer) back in (August) 2021 — and I would love to keep that going, continue to see that sort of warmth and care this weekend whether people are shopping here or any other local businesses,” Rivera said.
“If you can, get out there on Saturday and find something fun, find something local and support those people,” Dahlgren said. “They deserve (people’s patronage) more than anyone.”