By Terry Rogers
Beginning in 2010 when it was launched by American Express, Small Business Saturday has become an annual event throughout the country. When the program started, American Express hoped that it would encourage shoppers to support small, local businesses in their area during the Christmas season. They chose the Saturday after Thanksgiving in order to coincide with Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
This year, Small Business Saturday will be held on Saturday, November 28. Downtown Milford merchants say that they plan to offer specials that day. In addition, many small businesses say that the event is very important to small business owners as it encourages shoppers to frequent local merchants.
“Small Business Saturday has been a good day for us business-wise, but more so, it is so heartwarming to see people go out of their way to help downtown survive,” said Chuck Stanko, who co-owns Dolce Bakery & Coffee Shop with George Carroll. “We know friends and customers go out of their way that day just to support downtown year-round businesses. They don’t need to, but they want to help their downtown year-round businesses survive. We are very grateful to for them and for American Express who gave national attention to this effort.”
Mr. Stanko says that Dolce will be offering all their bagged coffee for ten percent off on Small Business Saturday. In addition, anyone who brings in food items for the Community Food Pantry that day will receive a free coffee.
Eugenia Sparks, owner of Irish Rose Gift Shop, located near Dolce, agrees with the sentiments expressed by Mr. Stanko. “Although Small Business Saturday is very important to small business owners, it is the customers who make it special,” Ms. Sparks said. “We want to extend our heartfelt thanks to the many customers who not only support us on Small Business Saturday, but also who support us throughout the year.”
Irish Rose will be offering 20 percent off all holiday items in their store. Everything in Irish Rose is imported from Ireland and Ms. Sparks says that there she is pleased to offer items that are suitable gifts for men, women or children. Mispillion Art League is also joining in the festivities to celebrate Small Business Saturday.
According to Erica Rae, Operations Manager at Mispillion Art League, the gallery will be offering Gift Certificate Specials. Customers who purchase a $20 gift certificate will receive one worth $25 while those who purchase a $40 gift certificate will receive one worth $50 and purchasers of $80 gift certificates will receive one worth $100. The first 20 gift certificates purchased will receive an original black and white holiday photograph of a Mispillion River Scene that will also be suitable as a gift.
In addition to the specials offered by local businesses, Downtown Milford Inc. will hold a Scavenger Hunt downtown that day. Brochures can be picked up next to the Santa House and the event runs from 10:30 am until 4:30 pm. Anyone who completely fills out the scavenger hunt form and returns it to the DMI table prior to 4:30 pm will be entered to win a prize from local businesses.
“Small Business Saturday is a chance for customers to support our local businesses at the heart of our city,” said Lee Nelson, Executive Director of Downtown Milford Inc. “There are lots of ways to participate this year, by shopping, dining or inviting friends to shop with you. Stores downtown will be decorated with ‘#ShopSmall’ swag and shoppers are encouraged to share their experience on social media with ‘#ShopSmall’ and ‘#ShopMilford’ throughout the day.” More information is available on the Shop Milford Facebook page and the DMI website.
Since Small Business Saturday began in 2010, the event has grown significantly. In 2014, nearly $14.3 billion was spent on Small Business Saturday, while only $5.7 billion was spent in 2013. It is expected that at least $14.5 billion will be spent this year during the event. In 2011, the year after the event began, there was a 23 percent increase in transactions at small businesses. Online shopping at local businesses has also seen an increase on that Saturday.