Forget Black Friday, Shop Small Business Saturday

Some shoppers are ditching the crowds for a smaller scene

By Samantha Tata and Lauren Steussy
|  Friday, Nov 25, 2011  |  Updated 2:42 PM PDT
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Masses of bargain-hungry consumers are expected to show up for this year’s Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when retailers showcase their holiday sales.

But some Americans are opting out of the traditional shopping spree to participate in Shop Small Business Saturday, an initiative that has garnered over 2 million likes on Facebook.

California is home to 3.2 million small businesses, about two-thirds of which are run by sole proprietors and the rest have less than 100 employees, according to Scott Hauge of Small Business California.

Local shops in San Diego have suffered in recent years, following a nationwide downward trend in independent retailer activity, as gaged by American Express. San Diego ranks twelfth among 15 cities studied for their independent retailer activity.

Saturday’s initiative wants holiday shoppers to shift their attention - and their wallets - toward those smaller shops.

Local politicians have thrown their support behind the initiative as well. City Councilmember Todd Gloria said he will kick off the day of independent shopping Saturday at about noon in North Park.

While big retailers, like Target and Walmart, will likely have customers lining up at their doors, Hauge said not too many small businesses will get the same attention.

“Big businesses have a large advertising budget. Small businesses need to find their own angles,” he said. “They’re local, they keep the money in the local economy. They need to remind people, ‘We’re your neighbors.’”

Small businesses are also afforded more flexibility with the products they offer, Hauge said. Products outside of the mainstream are easier to get on the shelves, because they do not have to go through corporate headquarters for approval and distribution.

Based on their prices, there is little competition between small businesses and huge retailers, which have equally large economies, Hauge said. Still, there are ways to put up a fight.

“They need to make it chic to be there,” he said.

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