That’s right. Skip shopping on Small Business Saturday, the unofficial day for shopping at the mom and pop storefronts nationwide, the date entrepreneurs count on for extra shoppers, tourists to hit their daily quotas out of the ballpark and beyond. The 12-hour timeslot two days after Thanksgiving that business owners promote like there’s snow tomorrow.
Instead spend your Black Friday on Main Street, the thoroughfare that lines your downtown, the avenues that surround your courthouse, train station or village hall, the area of your city or village that thought leaders say “has a sense of place.” It may take major effort for you, your family and friends to ignore the masses dropping their dollars and credit cards at the nearby big box stores on Nov. 28, but think about the message you’re conveying. Here are some strategies:
- Buy your major appliances and electronics on Railroad Avenue or whatever nearby street has a store that sells the latest TV, stereo or refrigerator. That’s right. Ignore Best Buy and other major chain stores, and patronize the small guy down the block. He’s got good deals too, and his customer service will likely be better. So $1,000 and more at the store around the corner. On Friday.
- Camp out Wednesday night at the priciest store downtown. The local police will likely think you’re off your rocker inflating your mattress, unrolling sleeping bag and turning on the portable heater on the brick sidewalk outside your favorite local shop. Tell local media what you’re doing. Think of it as a flash sleep-in. Naturally inform the store owner too, he’s likely to tell you it’s not necessary. Ignore. Tweet, eat, sleep outside your favorite small biz.
- Dodge the mall restaurants post Turkey Day like the bubunic plague. They’re likely to be crowded and noisy anyway. Go to the restaurant that’s mere footsteps from your house. The one that your sister’s friend opened last summer. The one where your brother’s colleague serves wine and craft beers on the weekends. Yes, that one.
- Sign the dotted line for a new insurance policy the day after Thanksgiving. Insurance companies are small businesses too. This might be a great time to re-evaluate your current plans. Besides, your agent will likely have more time than usual to talk to you. Who knows? The plan you purchase just be the smartest investment you make on Black Friday.
- Make a date with your Realtor the moment you finish your turkey omelette Friday morning. Your Realtor is a small business owner too, an invisible one during holidays. He or she likely works out of a home office, with no apparent sign or shingle hanging outdoors. In a challenging economy, he or she would likely appreciate your time while most of his clients are driving past his properties on their way to the mall. The new iPad or Blu Ray TV can wait, your Realtor’s bills can’t.
- Ignore the chain movie theaters Friday night. This might be especially challenging when many movies open this weekend, but think about the small cinema in your downtown. The one that just opened with a Kickstarter campaign or an angel investor. The one with the retro 1950s neon sign, the charming Art Deco architecture outside. Buy a ticket or two or three, eat at the cute Thai place next door before showtime.
- Scorn Thanksgiving leftovers. It’s tempting to save money by making lunch sandwiches with turkey, cranberry jello with the cranberries, but your local restaurateur will appreciate you spending your hard-earned dollars on his or her establishment. Freeze leftovers for dinner next week or next week’s lunches.
- Put a down payment on a custom-made suit or dress. Your local tailor or dressmaker will likely have a quiet Friday, why not help his or her business with a visit? She or he will have time to take measurements leisurely, and you can spend the morning or afternoon looking at fabric swatches.
- Buy all your yarn at the local knitting shop Friday. Resist, resist, resist the tempting deeply discounted fibers online. Odds are what you buy online will take away from the dollars you’ll spend nearby. Besides, you won’t be able to touch, feel or pet your online buys, not to mention the colors you see on the computer monitor just might not be accurate. Better to buy yarns in person and keep your local shop in black and in business for 2014 and beyond! Chicago knitters: here are some real deals that abound Small Business Saturday, but you seriously start your yarn shopping 24 hours earlier, in person,right?. At Windy Knitty get a $5 coupon for each $50 you spend, coupon redeemable beginning in February. At Loopy Yarns buy three skeins of regularly priced yarn, get the fourth free. At any shop that sell Berroco Yarns: buy $25 worth of Berroco for a free single pattern PDF coupon code for every $25 dollars you spend. Visit site for details.)
That’s it. Get shopping local on Friday