Fredericksburg VA Main Street is kicking off this weekend’s Small Business Saturday promotion with a video featuring dozens of downtown business owners.
“Small business. It’s the backbone of America,” Ann Glave, the organization’s executive director, says as the video opens on the organization’s Facebook page. It’s followed by brief shots of owners of downtown shops, restaurants and other businesses who add such phrases as “Communities flourish when small business does.”
That was American Express’ goal when it launched Small Business Saturday a dozen years ago as an local answer to major retailers’ promotion of Black Friday.
Small Business Saturday is now the capstone of the credit card company’s first yearlong Shop Small movement, which is promoted by the catch phrase that appears at the end of Main Street’s video: “Make every Saturday Small Business Saturday.”
“American Express,” Glave said, “is taking a much broader approach then they’ve done in the past.”
That’s important because independent retailers return more than three times as much money per dollar of sales to their communities than their chain competitors, and independent restaurants return more than two times as much money per dollar of sales than national restaurant chains, she said.
“Our small businesses are invested in the community through the local economy and their personal investment. The money stays within the community by way of taxes, payrolls and purchases. Our owners are involved with local nonprofit organizations, school and community activities and projects, and you know them—they are family,” Glave said.
Shoppers appear to be getting the message. An American Express survey found that 80 percent of customers said they’re likely to shop at small businesses this holiday season, and downtown Fredericksburg was bustling during its annual holiday open house Nov. 13 and 14, Glave said.
“People were on the streets, people with packages. I suspect this weekend will bring us the same thing,” she said. “I would hope. People are really supporting local businesses.”
The National Retail Federation, a retail trade association, is predicting that holiday spending this year will shatter previous records. Forecasters predict holiday sales during November and December will range from $843.4 billion to $859 billion, an increase of between 8.5 and 10.5 percent over 2020. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.
“There is considerable momentum heading into the holiday shopping season,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a news release. “Consumers are in a very favorable position going into the last few months of the year as income is rising and household balance sheets have never been stronger.”
That’s good news for businesses such as Dottie’s Den, a local shop that got its start in the owner’s basement nearly a half-century ago. Sales of gift items, floral arrangements and wreaths this time of year have been vital for the shop at 3701 Lafayette Blvd. for 36 years, said Kathy Richter, who runs the store.
“I just had a customer who said that it’s important to shop local and not shop the big-box stores,” she said.
A number of local businesses will celebrate Small Business Saturday this year by holding special events or offering sales. Highmark Brewery, for example, will sponsor a Small Business Saturday Sip & Shop from 1 to 6 p.m. at 309 Kings Highway. It will feature a dozen vendors, such as Hogshead Cigars, Honeycomb Heroes and Schlund Family Farm. Darcy Dawn will provide live music from 2 to 4 p.m. and food will be available from Rosie’s Pizza food truck.
LibertyTown Arts Workshop will open its doors at 916 Liberty St. in Fredericksburg at 8 a.m. and give away a free snow globe-themed ornament and a hot pink holiday tote with purchase to the first 50 customers.
“Then we’re doing 10 percent off all day and will be handing out our 10 percent off winter coupons to anybody that makes a purchase,” said co-owner and studio potter D.D. Lecky. “It’s good through February, so it kind of encourages people to come back again. They can use that for classes or anything.”
Fredericksburg jewelry designer Cindy Liebel will have a trunk show of her work in gold, silver and gemstones from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at LibertyTown as well. She’s been featured in several magazines and actress Jacqueline Torres wore a pair of her earrings in an episode of “Law & Order: SVU.”
“Most of the artists are creating locally, so it’s a great opportunity for people to come in and buy locally from people and we can deliver to people’s houses and we can ship things,” Lecky said. “We are super-duper good at shipping art at this point. We’ve shipped so much during the pandemic that I probably have like a degree in wrapping mugs and putting them in boxes so they can get across the country.”
LibertyTown will also have an outdoor market Dec. 11 and 12. It will be held both inside the building and outside in the courtyard, and there will be live music and hot cider.
“I feel that consumers are really excited to shop local this year,” Lecky said. “I feel a lot of push for that, and I’ve had a lot of questions from people about how they can help local businesses because of the supply chain issues. They’re sort of seeing how much of the global market is affected by shipping in from China and coming through these ports. So they’re a little worried about ordering something from Amazon that may or may not arrive at their doorstep. I do see people looking around for other options.”