LIMA — Looking for a local alternative to Black Friday? Small Business Saturday returns this weekend on Saturday, Nov. 30.
The Main Street version of Black Friday has generated an estimated $103 billion in sales for independent retailers and restaurants since its inception in 2010, according to a 2018 report from American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business.
In 2018 alone, the report estimates consumers spent about $17.8 billion at independent stores the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
While some Lima stores will be participating, others are hoping shoppers out looking for locally sourced gifts on Saturday will be content to support small business — with or without the sales.
Jean & Lily’s Fashion Boutique, the locally owned, upscale women’s clothing store which recently moved to a new location on North Main Street, will be offering up to 80% off merchandise during Small Business Saturday, as the store will be closed on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
Other local boutiques, like Shop for Good, which also moved to North Main Street in 2019, are planning special sales this weekend as they prepare for one of their busiest seasons of the year.
Jennifer Brogee, a co-owner of Shop for Good and The Meeting Place on Market coffee shop, estimated about 30% of the boutique’s sales are made between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The shop small message seems to resonate with Brogee’s customers, who can find locally made jewelry and gifts at the boutique, which now shares a storefront with Alter Ego Comics.
“We have a lot of things you can’t find on Amazon, things that are made locally,” Brogee said.
Likewise, The Meeting Place is now selling seasonal coffee beans and holiday drinks sourced from local roasters like Coffe Amor.
Turning ‘shop small’ into a routine
Phil Osmon, co-owner of local men’s clothing store Hofeller, Hiatt & Clark, wants to see that shop small mindset translate into a habit of supporting local business year-round — not just the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
“We hope that people will think of local business as a matter of routine and a matter of fact,” said Osmon, who doesn’t rely on Small Business Saturday for marketing outreach. “And we hope they will do it in an effort to help themselves: if customers shop locally, they need to realize they help themselves by doing that as much as they help the business.”
For Marc Bowker, owner of Alter Ego Comics in Lima, finding new and loyal customers is as easy as hosting free board game nights and special events, several of which are planned for December.
“People can play any of our open games, no charge,” Bowker said. “It’s a nice way for people to test a game before they buy.”
Bowker still relies on Black Friday, rather than Small Business Saturday, to boost holiday sales ahead of December. But he’s also looking forward to the Downtown Lima Holiday Festival, during which the comic book store will open a photobooth for fans to make Christmas cards and shop.
“It’s both fun to shop small,” Brogee said. “You get to take your time. You’re not running around.”
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.