Some small business owners on Main Street see Black Friday as dominated by big box stores and discounters and are more enthusiastic about Small Business Saturday as they head into the holiday shopping season.
Diane Villari, president of the Hill and Harbour Merchants Association, had signs promoting Small Business Saturday made up at to be put in store windows up and down the street.
The big push behind Small Business Saturday, which originated last year, is coming from American Express. On their website, American Express describes Small Business Saturday as a national movement that marks a day to support the local businesses that create jobs.
In addition to the media promotion, Amex is offering cardholders $25 back when they shop at a small business by registering for it on Facebook. Registration began Nov. 1 and there are limits, terms and conditions.
At , owner Lois Hollingsworth thinks it is a great idea for her dress shop. In addition to customers looking for holiday dresses, she sees many family groups coming in as members return home for the holidays. Having the extra incentive from American Express is helpful, she said.
Just up the street at , owner Iris Gesualdi says the program worked well last year and she is strongly promoting it this year. Gesualdi is a heavy user of social media and keeps her customers up to date with promotions and new merchandise through Facebook and a newsletter created using the Constant Contact software. She also has a web store.
owner Steve Caraccia was aware of Small Business Saturday but is putting his promotional effort into Black Friday. He has created some special sale items for the day and is promoting them to his regular customer base using social media. Looking down the road he is focusing on categorizing and customizing his customer base so he doesn’t waste money on a shotgun approach.
Center on Post Road near Frenchtown is going in another direction. Owner Gary Anderson doesn’t accept American Express and isn’t actively involved in Black Friday or Small Business Saturday. Instead he is putting his money into ski reports on television weather shows, targeting skiers who want information about snow conditions. He also did a direct-mail campaign and is moving into social media to expand his reach.
Anderson has adjusted to economic conditions by promoting used equipment and has developed an extenstive lease program.
Main Street also has a full schedule of events planned after Thanksgiving. The traditional tree lighting and Santa's arrival are set for 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27. are scheduled for every Thursday of December. Each will have a theme and shoppers will be entertained by wandering groups of singers.