“Black Friday” is a big event for some holiday shoppers and many major retailers, but for those who aren’t so eager to jump into the Christmas shopping fray, “Small Business Saturday” may be an even nicer way to begin the holiday season.
The day after Thanksgiving is the unofficial opening of the Christmas shopping season and has been dubbed “Black Friday” because it is symbolic of retailers’ profits going “into the black” for the year. In an effort to capitalize on the opening shopping frenzy, Black Friday has been increasingly encroaching on Thanksgiving Thursday. For years, a number of major retailers have opened their stores at midnight Friday, but this year a few, including Walmart and Toys ‘R’ Us have announced plans to open their stores and offer many special promotions on Thanksgiving night.
For people who would like to enjoy Thanksgiving with their families, let us offer an alternative shopping strategy. It’s called by different names across the country — “Small Business Saturday” and “Shop Local Saturday” are a couple — but they all urge holiday shoppers to “buy small” for the holidays. The idea is for shoppers to kick off their shopping on Nov. 26, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, by taking their holiday shopping lists to local, independently owned stores.
The Small Business Saturday promotion was instituted last year by American Express, but the idea is being picked up by small retailers across the country. These businesses are trying to promote the service and pleasant atmosphere that customers can find at a smaller store but may be missing at major retail chains.
Local retailers haven’t promoted Small Business Saturday, but “shop local” is a good year-round slogan for Lawrence, which has many outstanding independent retailers, where shoppers can find one-of-a-kind gifts or basic items at competitive prices. Lawrence residents reflexively think they have to shop out of town to find what they want, but those who try shopping local often are surprised by the selection of merchandise they can find right here in town.
Lawrence has a number of good national chains, which fill an important niche for local shoppers, but independent local businesses deserve special consideration from shoppers at the holidays and throughout the year. Locally owned businesses have invested in the community and always take the lead in supporting civic activities. Their business interests are in Lawrence and they know their financial success depends on how well they run that business and not on some decision made at a national corporate headquarters.
A number of national retailers are feeding the holiday shopping frenzy by opening on Thanksgiving night and fighting to be the first to capture America’s holiday shopping dollars. Being first in line at those stores may be fun for some shoppers, but for many of us, a more relaxed shopping trip to local, independently owned retailers could be a more enjoyable and comfortable way to celebrate the season.