In recent years, Black Friday has become synonymous with long lines, massive discounts and the big box stores that offer them.
But now, main street America is staking its claim in the retail madness of Black Friday weekend.
Nov. 26 is the second annual Small Business Saturday, which was launched last year by American Express to support local businesses during the holiday season.
“I think small businesses are the backbone of our society,” said Lucy Sweitzer, the owner of Anna’s Closet. “In Northfield, we are a small business community.”
Local businesses enrich their communities simply by existing. During the past two decades, small businesses have created 65 percent of net new jobs and for every $100 spent in locally owned, independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures, according to the Small Business Saturday website.
“I can do what Barnes and Noble can’t do."
Last year, many Division Street stores had extended hours and slashed prices on Small Business Saturday. The same is expected this year as there's more of an awareness for the day.
Helping the little guy and gal
In 2009, there were 28 million small businesses in the U.S. But in order to survive, they need community support, advocates say.
For instance, April Ripka, owner of The Sketchy Artist, experienced frustration when she discovered product lines she’d assumed were boutique-only for sale at Target.
“We can’t compete with those prices,” said Ripka. “We just can’t.”
Nevertheless, there are ways for small businesses to combat their big box competitors.
When a publisher told Jerry Bilek, owner of Monkey See Monkey Read that “It’s a Walmart world and you just need to get used to it,” he took the comment as a wakeup call.
Bilek built his business using creative tactics to work the big box system in his favor. He focuses his attention on promoting lesser-known authors, sells both new and used books and will order requested titles not in store from a wholesaler and sell them at a 10-percent discount.
“I can do what Barnes and Noble can’t do,” said Bilek.
Nationally, the holiday season is a crucial time for small business owners.
Last year Black Friday weekend drew 212 million shoppers to stores and websites. In 2010, the average shopper spent $365.34 and consumer spending totaled $45 billion, according to the National Retail Federation,
IBIS World reported that, in 2010, 59.2 percent of all holiday spending took place during the Christmas season.
This year, Northfield’s small business owners ask you give the gift of shopping local on Small Business Saturday.
You can find more articles from this ongoing series, “Dispatches: The Changing Amerian Dream” from across the country at The Huffington Post.