By Deirdre Shepherd

Got plans for the Saturday following Thanksgiving? What if you could start your holiday shopping, support the small, local businesses that make this city unique, and have fun while doing it? You are hereby invited to bundle up warm, grab your raincoat and come out to Small Business Saturday at a neighborhood near you.

Small Business Saturday is an annual event held on the day after ‘Black Friday’.  Think of it as a happy pause between the crowds and craziness of Black Friday and the cold efficiency of Cyber Monday. By contrast, the event encourages holiday shoppers to patronize small and local brick and mortar businesses.

Small Business Saturday was originally launched on November 27, 2010 by American Express. The company still takes an active role in supporting the event. They provide encouragement to entrepreneurs to use the day in ways that suit their businesses.  They help promote event participants with free, personalized ads that appear millions of times across the web. By 2012, all 50 states were taking part in Small Business Saturday.  In 2015, 95 million people went shopping on Small Business Saturday at independent retailers and restaurants.

The event celebrates a greater nationwide movement dedicated to uniting communities and supporting all kinds of small businesses – from corner stores to food trucks to online boutiques. Each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, shoppers, business owners and organizations come together to Shop Small, celebrate and share the places they love with the people they love.

Oh, and did I mention the bit about having fun? The businesses and neighborhoods that take part in Small Business Saturday offer a variety of attractions and amusements. Depending upon where you shop, there could be bands, carolers, displays of holiday lights, beer, coffee, hot cider and/or sausages. You might receive a ‘swag bag’, get a handful of generous and potentially very useful coupons, or have a chance to enter a raffle for unique prizes.