LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The weekend after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest for holiday shopping, as consumers search for the best deals between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In between lies Small Business Saturday, a holiday started 10 years ago that means something more this season. “Just keep in mind how important it is to support all of the small restaurants, shops, museums, galleries, bakeries, [and] coffee shops,” said Brandy McNair, owner of Bella Vita Jewelry.
An estimated 100,000 businesses across the country have shut their doors for good due to the pandemic. Small, local shops are often hit hardest. “It’s been a hard voyage, I guess, through COVID,” said Wesley Howerton, the owner of Control Records, “trying to navigate keeping everyone safe and allowing people to have a little bit of normalcy.” That’s where Small Business Saturday comes, in to remind shoppers that more than 60% of funds spent in the community – stay there. “People often say it’s worth their other dollar to spend it locally,” said Howerton.
This year, Little Rock shops had to take extra precautions during the special day to make sure consumers were still able to support them like before. “We’ve always celebrated Small Business Saturday and it’s always been a really big day for us,” said McNair, “but this year with COVID, we can’t really have crowds in the store.” For Bella Vita, that means additional shopping days and other ways to browse local products. “We’re offering private and virtual shopping appointments before we open and after we close each day,” McNair explained. Control chooses to limit the number of people in-store, with the rest selecting drive-by pickup. “I just decided that it would be ok for up to 3 people at a time to come inside,” said Howerton. “Of course, people always have to wear a mask and sanitize their hands before they come in.”
Both shops say Small Business Saturday can be the extra boost needed to get through the holiday rush, and a way to help next door business owners after months of uncertainty and worry over the next sale. “It’s a chance to remind people that we’re here, that small businesses matter,” said Howerton. “We all really need the support right now,” McNair added.