With more major retailers opening their doors to special holiday deals on Thanksgiving Day – instead of Black Friday – small business owners are trying to compete with Small Business Saturday.
Started by the credit card company American Express in 2010, the event is the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Valerie Reimers, owner of Lucinda’s, a boutique at 329 N. Mead, said she plans to have goodie bags with $25 worth of local goods for 25 customers on Small Business Saturday.
The store is trying to educate people on the benefits of shopping local, she said.
“All your money stays in town, it stays in the community, where with the bigger stores, a big portion of it does not,” she said.
According to a National Retail Federation survey, up to 140 million people plan to shop online and in stores over the long Thanksgiving Day weekend.
The survey also found that among those with plans to shop over the holiday weekend, about 23 percent – or 33 million shoppers – said they plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day, and 61 million people plan to shop on Saturday.
Last year, more than 89 million people shopped in stores and online on Black Friday alone, according to the National Retail Federation. Total sales for the four-day weekend were estimated at $59.1 billion.
American Express estimates that about $5.5 billion was spent at small businesses on Small Business Saturday last year.
While the numbers are relatively small compared with what the big-box stores haul in, the Christmas season remains important to smaller retailers.
This will be the seventh Christmas for Imagine That Toys, 2939 N. Rock Road. Owner Gwen Ottenberg says she is planning a “Top Secret” Small Business Saturday deal that will be e-mailed to customers.
Services such as year-round free gift wrapping and shipping help the store stand out and entice shoppers, Ottenberg said.
“People really enjoy it at the holidays when they don’t have to wrap those extra gifts,” she said.
“We’re just busy little elves at the toy store. … We care what the people open Christmas morning. We’re not just trying to make dollars. We’re trying to make memories.”
At Lucinda’s, Reimers said her staff try to provide more personalized service than what someone might encounter at a big-box retailer.
“We are all about atmosphere and customer service and unique product selection. We carry things you can’t find at the bigger retailers.”
She also takes pride in the holiday window display. This year’s display will have passersby seeing red with every item in the window the bright color.
“We always go for the ‘wow’ factor,” Reimers said.
Lucinda’s will never be open on Thanksgiving Day, she said.
“Thanksgiving is a really important family holiday, and I don’t believe it needs to be taken over with shopping. And I love to shop,” Reimers said.
“But there are also people out there where that is their tradition to go out and get those deals. So whatever floats your boat. But we’re not going to be doing it.”
Ottenberg says Imagine That Toys won’t be open that day either as it gears up for the busy retail month of December.
“I try and treat my staff the way I would want to be treated, so nobody is working Thanksgiving Day,” Ottenberg said.
“For me personally, that’s my last day off until Christmas Day … I’m going to try to relax and have dinner with my family.”