By Mariah Beckman
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who do Black Friday and those who don’t. Black Friday shoppers are relentless in their pursuit for a good deal; there is no line too long and no quarters too cramped to satiate their burning desire to save $50 or more on holiday spending.
Black Friday falls each year on the day after Thanksgiving. Big-box stores like Best Buy, Macy’s and Target roll out deep discounts and shopping incentives for those willing to brave the bustle of the malls and department stores.
These deal-seeking retail warriors don’t fit neatly into the category of Black Friday anymore, either. For those with a penchant for online shopping, there is always the allure of sitting cross-legged on the couch armed with a credit card and a cup of tea to find the best deals on Cyber Monday.
What about the little guys, though? What about the mom-and-pop shops that open, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with local-made wares ready for wrapping? Well, in 2010, American Express answered that question by coining the term Small Business Saturday. In an effort to remind the country that there’s more to the holidays than major retailers and chain stores, American Express (along with Twitter and Facebook) offered advertising resources to local shops and businesses across the country designed to help them earn their slice of the holiday spending pie.
And it worked. The Small Business Saturday movement has grown exponentially since its inception. Nearly every American city will participate in the #ShopSmall phenomenon on November 28, and — as American Express explains — the celebration is as much a social event as it is a shopping extravaganza. Shoppers strengthen their local ties as they mix and mingle with their neighbors and meet store owners face-to-face. Small Business Saturday is about engagement as much as it is about savings.
Sneak Preview to Small Business Saturday
Local shoppers who want that social experience but literally can’t wait for Small Business Saturday can get a jump on their #ShopLocal experience this year during the Black Friday Night Market, which will be organized in part by and located at 1120 Creative House in Tacoma. Marianne Moses works with more than 200 of Tacoma’s independent businesses, makers and creatives as the founder of Tacoma Local’s Guide. She will be working with some of the city’s finest to organize a large turn-out of vendors from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the Creative House, all of which will be armed to the teeth with gifts, art and goods that you simply can’t find at big box stores.
Moses explains that this holiday season vendors will organize a collaborative shopping experience with a strong focus on community engagement. “We have live music, pictures with Rad Santa (just like you would expect but with a younger and slightly more hipster Saint Nick, and all done with instant Polaroids!), pop-ups, and a holiday window display contest!”
The Black Friday maker-fair will continue into Small Business Saturday with even more local vendors, live music and sales a-plenty. Some of the great makers on-site to look out for include Three Bad Seeds, Thorn + Glory and Bad Luck Vintage.
Urban Xchange, a vintage boutique in Tacoma, also has something special planned for shoppers that Saturday. “For the last two years on Small Business Saturday,” explains UXC co-owner, Nick Casanova, “we’ve hosted a sort of ‘market’-type event in our shop. It’s our busiest day of the year and this year should be just as great! We will be hosting a few businesses and have a local coffee shop providing drinks from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. At 8:00 p.m. The Warehouse — a music management team — will host a show in our shop with three performances. We will pull all the racks out and replace them with comfy chairs and turn the front counter into a bar hosted by a local cocktail specialist from Hilltop Kitchen,” Casanova explains.
The 70th Annual Tacoma Tree Lighting, held in the lobby of the opulent Pantages Theatre, is a great way to round out the night. Free to all and starting at 5:00 p.m., this event offers weary shoppers a chance to experience a tradition that goes all the way back to pre-WWII Tacoma.
Big Things in Small Packages
There are many other happenings to check out during Small Business Saturday. With local vendors participating from Pacific Ave to Antique Row, Proctor and beyond, there are countless ways to support local businesses while finding the perfect holiday gifts for your loved ones.
Anew Thyme — a woman- and veteran-owned business on the Row — will offer 15 percent off all clothing as well as a baked goods, hot apple cider and a free tote to the first 25 customers with a surprise gift inside. The celebrated OCD Candy Company (yet another woman- and active-duty-owned business) is pleased to offer 10 percent off all sales and a small gift with purchase. The edgy Le Noir Bazaar will be offering handmade gift soap to the first 25 shoppers, and its also planning to offer 15 percent off any total purchase. There will also be a drawing for a $40 gift certificate.
For the enlightened (or the curious), the metaphysical boutique Inspired will also be hosting a free-admission Holistic Fair from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for those interested in connecting with the Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come. Psychic and intuitive readings are just a few highlights at her event, where the first 10 customers will receive a complimentary swag-bag.
R.R. Anderson, co-owner and Master Maker at Tinkertopia in downtown Tacoma, says that this one-of-a-kind art store is having a sale on vintage sewing machines with a life-sized cardboard cutout going to the first lucky buyer. This small business owner explains the benefits of shopping small in contemporary terms. “I like to shop local because my hard won dollars are like “likes,” and you wanna’ give your “likes” to places you want to see succeed. Places like 2nd Cycle Community Center, the Habitat for Humanity Pierce County Store, Earthwise Architectural Salvage, Urban Xchange, Lincoln Hardware, Tacoma Game and Destiny City Comics/King’s Books are places I will be lurking for gift ideas for my loved ones — and maybe some things for myself.”
Not to be overlooked are those stores that offer gift certificates for dining and activities. Erin Joose of Source Yoga is offering an extended deal that begins on Small Business Saturday and runs through December 1. In the studio or online, shoppers can use promo code: holiday15 to receive a 15 percent discount for goods and classes alike. At Tacoma Glass Studio guests can come in and make a blown glass item as a gift or purchase a gift of experience certificate for someone else. King’s Books offers a Vehement Vassal membership program that affords bibliophiles a 10 percenr discount year-round on a hoard of books guarded by a ferocious bookstore cat day and night.
#ShopLocal to See Tacoma Flourish
Satori boutique, like so many great shops in Tacoma, will be holding an overstock sale that will run through Sunday. Shoppers can expect generous markdowns on regular and overstocked merchandise that start at prices as low as $5.
“I say it all the time,” says store manager, Diamond Sanger, “but shopping locally really does go back into your local community. We’re not sending any money off to a corporate headquarters across the country. We live here in your community as well and do our best to support positive developments and growth in Tacoma. Whether that be getting a bite to eat at a local joint or getting our car fixed by a small auto shop, we understand the importance of keeping that locally owned, hardworking, independent spirit alive. We want to continue to see Tacoma flourish.”
Join 1120 Creative House and Tacoma Locals Guide during either of their distinctly different — but equally awesome — pop-up events or feel free to browse University Place, 6th Avenue and Antique Row on November 28, 2015 to save big from local vendors.
Can’t make it into town but still interested in investing in local vendors? Be sure to check out the shopping selection online at shop253; there are lots of great stores and goods to be found in Tacoma without ever having to leave the comfort of your couch.