Black Friday is over and now it's time for small businesses to shine with Small Business Saturday.
"We appreciate the huge public relations push that American express has put on this Saturday as small business Saturday, they started this months ago picking a Saturday here or there but we have promoted small business Saturday, every Saturday since it began," said Jack Lank, president of the United Regional Chamber of Commerce, which supports businesses in 16 communities including Attleboro, Foxborough, Mansfield, Norton, Seekonk and Wrentham.
"Why can’t every Saturday be where you choose a small business to buy your goods and/or services," Lank added. "By purchasing goods and services from a local business, it helps put money right back into our local economy. For every $1 spent, 68 cents stays in the community."
Shoppers need to think outside of the box as support for local business goes beyond a traditional retail store. Supporting local businesses includes buying gift certificates from local restaurants and mom and pop shops including Miller's, Colonel Blackinton and Papagallos in Attleboro, the Reserve Wine Bin in Foxborough and Old Thyme Shoppe in Norton, to name a few. Buying gift certificates from local salons and service businesses is also supporting the community whether it includes buying hair products at Cutting Edge or a massage for friend at Full Circle Fitness.
It's also about evoking memories and childhood traditions by buying a Christmas trees at Attleboro's Standley Tree Farm.
"It's been busy, but it's been normal as we get closer to the Christmas cutting season," Standley Tree Farm owner Bill Standley said Saturday afternoon.
Standley has his doubts that people are as interested in supporting local business.
"I think it's nice, but I'm not sure people give a darn," he said. "They are going to go where they want to go and buy what they want to buy."
For Standley, its small business Saturday every day. "I do business locally and it has to be made in the USA. When I see people who come in here who own a business I buy from them too if it is something I need and can buy from their business."
Just over the border is Seven Arrows Farm located at 346 Oakhill Ave. on the Attleboro/Seekonk town line.
The small business has been owned and operated for the past 30 years by husband and wife duo Judy and Michael Marcellot.
The Marcellots have not seen a rush of shoppers this Small Business Saturday, but that's okay, according to Judy.
"We have last minute Christmas shoppers," she said. "A lot of them make their own things. They start making their own things right before Christmas."
Marcellot said Seven Acres is an alternative business that doesn't quite conform with business modalities, "People come here to relax, enjoy a cup of tea, it's not like a Christmas rush."
It was business as usual at the Old Thyme Shoppe in Norton, at least for the pre-Christmas shopping season, according to a clerk. The small business had a busier day on Black Friday. Why? The store held a raffle for customers on Black Friday and marketed it in a newsletter that they sent out to customers in advance of Black Friday. "It worked," said the clerk. "We emailed the newsletter to all of our customers and I think it helped."
Lank said the Chamber understands that there are two sides of buying at the big box stores and buying at the little gift shop or small boutique, according to Lank. Communities need to do what they can to support the small businesses, that are the backbone of the local economy but people also need to shop at the big box stores because they provide hundreds of jobs for families, friends and neighbors.
"It's kinda of a Catch-22 situation," Lank said. "One challenge I made to our members at our Annual dinner, is to spend 50 percent of your holiday dollars at your local small business to support your local community and the other 50 percent at the Big box stores that provide local jobs for our friends and families."
"But buy local, you can help keep our region strong.
While she does not resent the existence of malls or big box stores, Marcellot said she has always been a small business shopper.
"I'm not a mall shopper, nope, no. I don't see it as a monetary thing to do. For me it is psychological and philosophical thing to do because you support your friends.
"We are all in this together," she added. "I want to know the owner of the shop or people behind the counter. I want someone to care that I came."