'Tis the season for shopping, and later this week, customers will be lining up outside stores to try to get the best deals during Black Friday sales.
However, Pam Stevens with the Newton Chamber hopes consumers also will make an effort to come downtown a day later for "Small Business Saturday." The national event is designed to raise awareness about shopping local during the holidays.
"As we get caught up in the excitement of the 'big box' ads, we need to remember our local businesses as well," said Stevens, the Chamber's executive director. "They're very important to our economy."
Although Stevens said the "Small Business Saturday" concept has been around for about a decade, she's seen the movement pick up momentum recently. Businesses can sign up with American Express to receive free graphics to use to promote their stores, and American Express card users can register to receive $10 credit when they shop at a qualifying small business on Saturday.
Black Friday and the holiday season is known as an important time of the year for revenue for bigger stores, but Stevens wants consumers to remember the holidays are an important revenue period for small businesses, too. Local businesses have reported the Chamber's recent "Taste of Christmas" event drove an increase in traffic and sales, and the Chamber also plans to sponsor carriage rides in December.
Faith & Life Bookstore is one of the downtown shops planning to participate in Small Business Saturday. The store — which will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — plans to offer special promotions such as sale items, free gifts with purchases, and a shopping bag giveaway to the first 20 customers.
"It gives small businesses an opportunity to compete with the larger stores and just kind of puts a spotlight on small businesses," said Bethany Martin, store manager.
Main Street Co. and Kitchen Corner in downtown Newton also will be participating in Small Business Saturday. They are offering 20 percent off a customer's entire purchase (some exclusions) now through the weekend. The store will be open special hours on Sundays — 1 to 4 p.m. — for the holidays.
Manager Madeline Stobbe said there will be goodies for customers to snack on and free popcorn from an old-fashioned popcorn maker. The first 30 customers at Kitchen Corner will receive a "Shop Local" tote, and customers will receive a free scarf at Main Street Co., while supplies last. Complimentary gift wrapping also will be available.
Owner Vicki Stobbe is excited to see an increased interest in "Small Business Saturday" among local merchants.
"It is growing, growing, growing," she said.
For more information about Small Business Saturday, visit https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/Shop-Small/.