High hopes for Small Busi­ness Satur­day

From Pig­town to West­min­ster, shop own­ers stage events to­day to help lure shop­pers

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Scott Dance Bal­ti­more Sun Me­dia Group reporter Michel El­ben contributed to this ar­ti­cle. sdance@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/ss­dance

Garba Diop’s Afro Fash­ion and Art shop in Pig­town is al­most three years old. But as he read­ies for to­day’s shop­pers, he isn’t tak­ing down the Grand Open­ing ban­ner in the front win­dow.

“Peo­ple are go­ing to say, ‘Wow, what’s hap­pen­ing here?’ ” Diop said. “They stop in to see what’s go­ing on.”

The own­ers of fam­ily busi­nesses in small shop­ping districts around the re­gion were ready­ing Fri­day for what they hope will be a brisk day of sales on Small Busi­ness Satur­day, which has be­come an an­nual rite to counter the mega-sales at big-box re­tail­ers on Black Fri­day.

Events are sched­uled in shop­ping districts from Pig­town to West­min­ster to lure peo­ple who are look­ing to spend their money at lo­cally owned es­tab­lish­ments.

In Pig­town, Bal­ti­more Mayor-elect Cather­ine E. Pugh, state Comptroller Peter Fran­chot and city and state law­mak­ers plan to tour busi­nesses and pop-up shops along Wash­ing­ton Boule­vard, with live mu­sic and hol­i­day food and drinks wel­com­ing shop­pers.

Bal­ti­more Sym­phony Or­ches­tra mu­si­cians will pro­vide a fes­tive sound­track for El­li­cott City shop­pers ea­ger to sup­port busi­nesses that have re­built from a dev­as­tat­ing flash flood that hit the town’s Main Street in July.

At the weekly Waverly Farm­ers’ Mar­ket, dozens of lo­cal ar­ti­sans are join­ing for a pop-up hol­i­day mar­ket.

And in Car­roll County, mer­chants have banded to­gether with a pro­mo­tion that could give shop­pers $100 ex­tra to spend at lo­cal stores. Start­ing to­day and over the next week, any­one who buys some­thing from eight of the 90 par­tic­i­pat­ing shops through­out the county can en­ter a draw­ing for one of 10 gift cer­tifi­cates.

“We wanted to do some­thing to en­gage peo­ple in a big­ger way to come and shop small,” said Missie Wil­cox, mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant for the city of West­min­ster. “This is the time to re­ally see how won­der­ful Car­roll County down­towns are. We hope the [pro­mo­tion] will mo­ti­vate peo­ple to go to mul­ti­ple towns.”

The National Fed­er­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Busi­ness and Amer­i­can Ex­press coined Small Busi­ness Satur­day in 2010. Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey they con­ducted last year, 95 mil­lion peo­ple par­tic­i­pated in 2015, spend­ing more than $16 bil­lion. It was an in­crease of 14 per­cent from the pre­vi­ous year.

In Ham­p­den, known to shun national chains in fa­vor of lo­cal busi­nesses, the an­nual light­ing of ex­trav­a­gantly dec­o­rated homes in the 700 block of W. 34th St. is ex­pected to bring in shop­pers in large numbers. The “Mir­a­cle on 34th Street” is sched­uled to start glow­ing at 6 p.m.

“The light­ing of 34th Street re­ally kicks off the hol­i­days for a lot of peo­ple,” said Leslie Stevenson, owner of In Wa­ter­melon Sugar at 36th Street and Chest­nut Av­enue. A sign out­side the store at the well-traf­ficked cor­ner in­di­cated that all of the lo­tions, lamps and other wares in­side were 10 per­cent off.

Busi­ness was busy there Fri­day, and Stevenson said she ex­pects a rush of peo­ple be­fore and af­ter the light­ing to­day. The two-day pe­riod is one of the busiest of the year, she said.

Across the street at Bazaar, a self­de­scribed “mor­bid” gift shop, owner Brian Henry said it was another busy Black Fri­day. He said the 34th Street light­ing typ­i­cally brings out a lot of win­dow shop­pers, but that doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily trans­late to sales.

Bob Hosier, a 34th Street res­i­dent whose house at the west­ern edge of the block is ar­guably dec­o­rated the most brightly, said he hopes vis­i­tors to the dis­play spend their money in the neigh­bor­hood, too.

“We cer­tainly help small busi­nesses,” he said.

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