We’re in it now, the full swing of the holiday season. Thanksgiving is just days away, and then the tidal wave that is December is upon us. But there’s a little tiny breath between Thanksgiving and December, and that’s Small Business Saturday — the one day devoted entirely to shopping local and staying present in your community.
There’s no doubt that carrying packages from a variety of small, independent shops is fun. The hustle and bustle combined with the joyful holiday spirit feels just like an Andy Williams song, and that is a whole different kind of shopping experience.
Except Small Business Saturday is a much more significant day than simply the festive feelings it produces. It’s a vital day in the economic life of small-business owners, artists, independent coffee shops and more.
But I’m just one person with one perspective. Read on for some firsthand accounts about why Small Business Saturday matters.
AENDEE (5 8th St. S., Fargo) owner Ashley Dedin recalls her first Saturday after Thanksgiving. “The holiday shopping season can be a really stressful time for artists, makers and small-business owners,” she says. “As a shop owner, you want to keep inventory levels high, offer a great selection, and provide outstanding customer service. As an artist/maker you want to put out the best quality work and stay passionate and interested in your products.
“My first Small Business Saturday was four months after I opened my shop. I remember being very nervous, thinking I had overprepared and worked so hard for perhaps nothing, but by the time I was halfway through the day I had nearly sold out! People came out in droves to show their support of small businesses in our community, and I was not only relieved, I was reinvigorated with excitement and passion for what I was doing.”
For Gallery 4 (114 N. Broadway), Small Business Saturday is about connecting with people. “A customer came into the gallery because she was moved by a piece she saw through the window,” artist Karman Rheault says. “She looked at the piece with a tear in her eye for a good half an hour. Although our prices are very affordable, it was still outside what she could spend. I was able to set up a layaway plan for her, and in a few short months she left with her cherished piece. I was also able to introduce her to the artist who created the work so they could talk about the art. This is why we love being artists, and why we love being a small business.”
Across the bridge, Riverzen has enjoyed the benefits of the retail day over the years, says owner Kim Jore. “Small Business Saturday is special to me because it is one day that our community recognizes us and tries to support us in what we do and love. It generates word about my business and makes the holiday and end of year a much happier time.”
Trudy Sundquist of the Rourke (521 Main Ave., Moorhead) says Small Business Saturday is especially important to the museum because of its location across the Red. “Many locals partake in the activities in downtown Fargo, but the Rourke is only a stone’s throw from Fargo, and we’d love to see more visitors,” she says.
Mark Weiler, owner of ecce gallery (216 Broadway) adds, “We are a small family business. Small Business Saturday emphasizes and effectively celebrates the effect shopping locally has on the community and the cultural ecosystem.”
Stumbeano’s (210 Broadway, alley side) offers a chance for those Saturday customers to take a break and re-energize, says owner Greg Stumbo. “We saw many people last year enjoying time with friends and family in our cozy shop, and that was really nice,” he says.
For Unglued (408 Broadway) owner Ashley Morken, the day packs a huge punch. “I never imagined one single day out of the year impacting us so much,” she says. “Ever since our first pop-up shop four years ago, Small Business Saturday has become a cornerstone of the year for us that seriously helps us keep this adventure sustainable for us and our makers. We tear up every time seeing the level of support from our community and how excited they are to be shopping that day.”
Still not convinced? Then I challenge you to go out for yourself and get caught up in all the holiday cheer while investing in the economic boost for these shops and many others. I hope to see you out and about on Saturday.
Dayna Del Val, executive director of The Arts Partnership, writes a monthly column for Variety. For more information on the arts, go to theartspartnership.net.
This article is part of a content partnership with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and originally appeared in the Monday, November 23, 2015, issue of the paper.