Philly area retailers offer deals for Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is this weekend. For many businesses, what was once just a marketing campaign has become a crucial sales event that helps retailers meet their bottom lines.

“Small Business Saturday is so important to small businesses like ours because it significantly helps to bring awareness that we are actually here,” said Annie Maloney, the owner of Sweet Annie’s Candy Shoppe in Ambler. “With so many businesses participating, many shoppers see the crowds on our main street and pull over to check out what all the commotion is about.”

The annual promotion, which was launched by American Express back in 2010 to encourage shopping on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, has grown into a massive event that attracted more than 51 million shoppers nationwide in 2021. Industry observers are forecasting that nearly 6 in 10 holiday shoppers will participate in Small Business Saturday this year, a number that’s predicted to be higher than Black Friday.

Small Business Saturday is particularly important this year. The National Retail Federation is predicting that holiday sales will only increase about 4% (it was 15% in 2021) and that the average consumer will spend about $833, a significant decrease from the $879 per consumer spent last year.

Given rising costs due to inflation, higher interest rates, and a declining level of household wealth, many big retailers from Target to Home Depot are forecasting a dim holiday shopping season. Which is why many small businesses in the area are doubling down on the annual event that celebrates them.

Maloney uses the day as an informal deadline to ensure that all of her holiday inventory is in stock and ready to go. The same goes for Carmella Lanni and Carlo Giardina, co-owners of V Marks the Shop, an all-vegan convenient store and grocery in South Philadelphia where they stock vegan Advent calendars, Hanukkah gelt, holiday popcorn tins, and limited-edition vegan cheeses for the holidays. Lanni and Giardina are also donating a portion of their Small Business Saturday proceeds to a local community center.

“We use the day as a way to connect with loyal and new customers, our neighbors, and the community at-large,” Giardina said. “The awareness brought forth by events like this is great on a local economic level.”

At the Story, a coffee shop and bookstore in Ardmore, Anna Walker-Roberts is planning a special sales event for holiday book shoppers.

“We love decorating the shop to give it that extra homey, holiday feel,” she said. “Our specials change every season, and we’ll be launching a special drinks promotion that weekend.”

Like Walker-Roberts, Abigail Greene, who owns Midnight Lunch, a boutique in Old City, also plans to use the day for an event. She’ll be hosting her second annual “Midnight Lunch Marketplace,” where there will be a handful of women-owned brands who primarily sell online “’popping up’ outside the shop and sharing their products with our brick and mortar customer base,” she said.

“I think Small Business Saturday is super important this year,” said Greene, who feels that over the last two years, as retail has returned to some new version of normalcy, “the allure of shopping small has worn off a little bit” and customers are back to shopping at big-name stores regularly and in boutiques less frequently.

“Small Business Saturday is an opportunity to get consumers back on the bandwagon of shopping consciously and supporting local businesses before the holidays,” she said.

An event on Small Business Saturday is a no-brainer for Tina Dixon Spence, the owner of Mount Airy’s Buddha Babe, a luxury design studio focusing on accessories for babies, toddlers, and the home.

“It’s our store anniversary, so of course there’s a party!” she said.

Dixon Spence will be inviting other Black women who own businesses to showcase their goods to their customers. “That way shoppers can delight in cakes from Lizzies Love Cakes, shirts from Stoop & Stank, candles from Joie Candle Co., and gift wrap from Honey Gifts Co.” She’s also introducing new locally produced items, including a signature candle, and hosting a book reading and signing for NBC10′s Brittney Shipp to celebrate her new book, The Meteorologist in Me.

In addition to events, many other small business owners will launch holiday promotions this weekend.

“I offer wholesale candle prices in the shop, which is the biggest promotion I have all year,” said Amy Johnson, who since 1999 has owned the Langhorne Candle Co., which sells both candles and cannabidiol (CBD) products. Johnson’s shop is typically closed on Saturdays, but she’ll open this weekend to participate in Small Business Saturday.

The promotion’s impact extends beyond typical retail, as well. Mike Williams, who runs Red Fox Graphics, a marketing firm in Broomall, will also be offering significant discounts on all orders placed on Saturday. Small Business Saturday “has increased our client portfolio,” he said.

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