Just before his store opened at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Steve Samaras was outside of Zachary’s Jewelers, the store he owns on Main Street in Annapolis, Maryland, wearing a suit but using a leaf blower to tidy up the sidewalk around his store.
For Samaras and others who own stores along the Main Street corridor in downtown Annapolis, a day like Small Business Saturday is a huge deal and a big boom for business. The sidewalks along Main Street were crowded with people and the parking spaces quickly filled up as shoppers hurried to the local mom and pop shops.
“It started off with a trickle and seems to have grown into something that is really pretty important to small businesses across the country,” said Samaras. “It is a community spirit that we begin to feel. And in our type of business–the closer we get to the holidays–the better the revenue stream begins, so this is just the kickoff. This weekend is very important for small businesses.”
Across the street at Hobo, a store that sells handbags and leather items like jackets and wallets, customers were greeted with discounts on merchandise and free mimosas just for stopping by.
A couple of blocks up the brick-lined Main Street, Rachel Oldewurtel, the manager of The Spice and Tea Exchange, prepared different teas and ciders for customers to sample.
“It’s a huge day,” she said. “All of these businesses are small businesses and this is a huge impact to our weekend. Bigger than Black Friday,” she added.
And she said she’s expecting sales to climb much higher than they did last year.
“People are more and more aware that if we love a town like Annapolis, we have to support the small businesses that make it not a mall,” said Meg Kimble, who was working inside Sea Bags Maine, a store that recycles old sails into handbags. “We are unique, we’re special.”
Around the corner on State Circle, Melanie Murphy, who owns The Annapolis Pottery, was getting her store ready for one of the busiest days of the year too.
“Over the years it’s gotten bigger,” said Murphy about Small Business Saturday. “It’s become our day. “It gives the ability for small businesses to shine outside of the large big box retailers. It really puts the spotlight on them,” she said.
Murphy added that a day like Small Business Saturday can be crucial to getting new, loyal customers.
“It helps us through the year,” said Murphy. “Once people come down and see what there is, hopefully they will come back several times.”