West 19th Street in the Heights is like a little small business world, with one independent store after another lining the street. This is not where most shoppers will go for deals starting early Friday morning, or in some cases even tonight.
But, Saturday may be the day for them. Since American Express launched its Small Business Saturday campaign three years ago, the day has been widely recognized, including by Congress and the Small Business Administration.
Alexis Kidd, employee at Jubilee
Alexis Kidd works at Jubilee, a boutique that sells everything from clothes to home décor and jewelry. She says the store has seen more customers on Small Business Saturday since it launched.
“And I think that the more the years go by, the idea is catching on more and more. And it’s not just the commercials on TV, I mean, people talk about it to their friends, to their family. And so we see new faces in every year, based on experiences from people from years past.”
“The idea of it was that small businesses tend to lose out on Black Friday to the big box retailers.”
Jill Foote is an economist at Rice University. She says it’s difficult to say exactly how much of an impact the day had on small businesses last year.
“But there are some surveys that have been done, which show that at a minimum there was $5.5 billion spent at small businesses on Small Business Saturday. That is about 10 percent of the total spending over Thanksgiving weekend last year.”
And she says, that number is likely to increase this year. That’s a good thing, according to Foote, since small businesses are a huge part of the economy and have created about two-thirds of the nation’s jobs in the last 10 years.
Back on West 19th, Chuck Roast, owner of Vinal Edge Records, is a little more skeptical. He says he would like to think that people go out of their way to support local businesses that day but that many probably don’t care enough. For independent record stores like his, Black Friday is actually the big day.
“You know, years ago people didn’t come to us. They mainly went to the mall. But in the last two years, there has become a holiday, sponsored by independent record stores called ‘Record Store Day Black Friday.’ And on that day, we’re going to be selling hundreds of exclusive releases only available to independent record stores.”
One thing that’s clear is you’ll have plenty of chances to get good deals this holiday season — whether you decide to go shopping on Thursday, Black Friday or Small Business Saturday — or shop online on Cyber Monday.