Frederick shops ready for ‘Small Business Saturday’

In an age of box-store stampedes and Black Friday early openings, some people are gearing up for a different kind of post-Thanksgiving retail experience.

This weekend, the second annual Small Business Saturday will take place in stores across the nation. Dozens of Frederick County boutiques and restaurants are set to participate in the shopping day, which was created by American Express in 2010 to promote patronage at independently owned businesses.

Eli Roth, associate director of promotions and development for the Downtown Frederick Partnership, said at least 14 Frederick city stores are offering Small Business Saturday promotions and discounts. Only six businesses did so last year, Roth said. He said he hoped the popularity of the shopping day would continue to grow exponentially, because it draws attention to the “family owned, mom- and-pop-type shops” that populate the area.

Bryan Smith, a small business consultant with the Western Maryland Small Business Development Center, agreed.

“While most all retailers will benefit from the holiday season, I expect Frederick County’s nonchain retailers to benefit quite a bit from Small Business Saturday,” he wrote in an email. “Since many areas have their Christmas lights up already, our smaller, boutique-type shops in the county are where shoppers can enjoy a nice shopping and dining experience in a quaint holiday atmosphere, so I think most small retailers will be very busy this Saturday.”

–According to a Main Street Maryland promotional flier, 37 businesses located in Frederick County Main Street communities — Brunswick, Frederick, Middletown and Thurmont — will offer special discounts for customers on Saturday.

Maria Higgins, owner of Unique Optique, said Small Business Saturday shoppers will receive 15 percent off the regular price of prescription glasses or sunglasses at her downtown Frederick store.

“I think it’s nice that (Small Business Saturday) is kind of like a complement to Black Friday being primarily about the box stores,” she said. It encourages people to “put money back into their communities.”

“I think to have a small business shopping day is just a nice way to recognize the core of communities,” said Jeff Hurwitz, owner of Colonial Jewelers. He said he expected his Frederick store to see an uptick in customers this weekend.

“I hope it catches on,” said Brown’s Jewelry and Gift Store owner John Brown. The Thurmont shop owner said he believed small businesses were the backbone of the American economy.

“I don’t know that people understand that,” he said.

According to 2009 data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, 91.2 percent of retail businesses in the United States have fewer than 20 employees. Those businesses account for about 17.7 percent of retail employment in the country.

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