FAIRBANKS — Forget Black Friday. Small Business Saturday is where it’s at.
Wedged between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, today is the day designated to hit your small, local retailer in a show of support. It began in 2010 when American Express founded Small Business Saturday to help small businesses get more exposure during one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year, according to www.smallbusinesssaturday.com, the website run by American Express. Last year, more than 100 million people came out to shop at independently owned small businesses across the nation on the day.
Since 2010, when the day came into existence, the federal government also has thrown its support behind Small Business Saturday.
“By shopping small, we can help America’s small businesses do what they do best: grow their businesses, create good jobs and ensure that our communities are vibrant,” wrote Karen Mills, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, on her blog at www.sba.gov.
For the local business owner, the day is seen almost as an imperative.
“You should support local businesses in general and keep the local economy going,” said Sheri Olesen, owner of Chartreuse, a vintage thrift and art store located at 729 First Ave. in downtown. “Your local business supports the community, and that money stays in Fairbanks.
Olesen cited herself as an example of not only a business owner but also a consumer who tries to frequent local businesses as much as possible. When her store showcases artists for First Friday art shows, she could go to a generic retailer for catering supplies but often chooses downtown venues such as River City Cafe for catering or Big Ray’s for fishing line on which artists can showcase their works.
“For birthday presents, I go downtown. And it’s better to buy local than online because it keep the money in Fairbanks. I think that’s really important to take care of each other in the community,” she said.
As part of the Small Business Saturday promotion, some local businesses are handing out a limited number of $25 American Express gift cards to early bird customers. Gift card giving participants include Alaska Fun Center; Arctic Traveler’s Gift Shop; Arctic Winter Games 2014 booth at the Pioneer Park Holiday Bazaar, Big Daddy’s BarB-Q; Chartreuse; Date-Line Digital Printing; Elite Urban Fitness; Fairbanks Community Cooperative Market; Finish Line Restaurant; Gallery 49; Geek City; HomeGrown Market; HooDoo Brewery; the Santa Clause House; and White Spruce Trailers.
In addition to gift cards, Nikki Kinne, who with her husband, Ken Kokjer, owns Gallery 49 in the Co-op Plaza at 535 Second Ave., is giving away shopping bags to the first 14 visitors to the gallery. The idea is to get the consumer to think about buying local, whether for yourself or for gift giving, she said.
“You get a more unique gift and there’s more thought involved in giving it,” Kinne said. “It keeps dollars local, meaning they turn around and are spent on the next small business. It’s more of an event-based shopping experience.”
Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504.