By Erinn Callahan
CSMNG Staff Writer
A common military adage is, “Bloom where you’re planted.” Small Business Saturday is a perfect opportunity to put down roots in your community, however temporary your stay. And while Black Friday is traditionally considered peak holiday shopping time, waiting an additional day can also mean good deals.
Small Business Saturday — held the Saturday after Thanksgiving each year — encourages shoppers to spend their money at brick-and-mortar business in their community, rather than looking to the big-box retailers and e-commerce stores popularized by Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
American Express launched the Small Business Saturday initiative in 2010, a time when many small businesses in the United States were struggling as a result of the economic downturn. In the eight years since the initiative began, consumers across the nation have reported spending an estimated $85 billion at local, independent retailers and restaurants, according to American Express.
Residents in the Colorado Springs area won’t have to look far Nov. 24, this year’s Small Business Saturday. Representatives from the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs will set up a booth in Acacia Park, 115 E. Platte Ave., from 11 a.m. — 1 p.m.
During that time, shoppers can pick up the Downtown Partnership’s annual holiday coupon book, which holds potentially hundreds of dollars in savings from locally owned downtown businesses, along with reusable canvas shopping tote bags, balloons and stickers.
More than 90 percent of downtown businesses are locally owned, according to the Downtown Partnership. Many of those retailers rely heavily on holiday sales, said Sarah Humbargar, vice president of development services for the Downtown Partnership.
At least two pop-up businesses, New Earth Beads and Sweet Addict Bakery, will offer special deals during downtown’s Small Business Saturday event. The first 10 customers at New Earth Beads will receive a free “swag bag” with their purchase, and Sweet Addict Bakery will offer a full menu along with a caramel fountain for hungry holiday shoppers.
Residents also can park for free in the city’s three parking garages on weekends during the holiday season, Humbargar said.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for shoppers to come downtown,” she said.
In Old Colorado City, vendors will set up from 10 a.m. — 4 p.m., with the annual Christmas Stroll beginning at 5 p.m. Residents can get a jump start on their Christmas shopping at business like the Michael Garman Museum and Gallery, which is offering 20 to 70 percent off hundreds of handmade sculptures during its annual holiday sale.
A host of mom-and-pop merchants will also peddle their wares down the road in Manitou Springs from 7 — 11 a.m. Much like its neighbors, Manitou Springs offers its shoppers unique gift ideas not found online or in department stores.
“Most businesses, especially retailers, thrive on the holiday season where you’re wanting to find something special for your friends and family,” Humbargar said. “Independent businesses often have labels you won’t find anywhere else, so you are much more likely to find a gift that speaks from the heart.”
However, shopping at locally owned businesses has econmic effects that reach far beyond the holiday season, Humbargar said. For every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remains in the city — compared with $43 of every $100 spent at a chain retailer, according to the Downtown Partnership.
“A very small percentage of your money stays in the community when you’re shopping at a big-box store,” Humbargar said. “When you’re supporting local small businesses, those dollars stay local. The more dollars you spend in local stores, the more of those dollars stay here.”
Consumers often hear of “voting with your dollars,” Humbargar said, adding spending money locally is one of the best ways to have a voice in determining the kinds of businesses people want in the community.
“There is something to be said about voting with your dollars,” Humbargar said. “It’s a great way to show you care about your community and what kind of businesses you want to see there.”
And you can help your neighbors and friends flourish this holiday season while also sending your faraway loved ones a little piece of your new home.
“By shopping local, you are making a statement,” Humbargar said. “You are saying, ‘I care about the people running a business in the community.’ ”