Boutiques on Rehoboth Avenue were well prepared for one of the busiest shopping days of the holiday season.
Flanked by Black Friday – where big-box stores reign supreme – and Cyber Monday – which is dominated by online merchants – Small Business Saturday is a national movement to support local businesses during the holidays.
The campaign aims to preserve neighborhoods, boost the local economy and support jobs in the private sector.
The National Retail Federation says shoppers spent an estimated $59 billion on consumer purchases during Thanksgiving weekend in last year.
“Last year, Small Business Saturday was actually our best day of the year,” said Mod Cottage co-owner Brad Holsinger. “People really do seem to want to support small business.”
Mod Cottage featured sales and refreshments Nov. 30, and Holsinger said he’s expecting a big crowd. “We’ve just grown so much in the last couple of years,” he said.
Holsinger and co-owner Ed Moore obtained a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration to expand their business in the fall of 2011. Holsinger said he and Moore used the loan to hire some part-time employees and consolidate debt. “It worked out great,” he said.
The owners are now in the final stages of obtaining a new, larger loan, which they aim to use to give their part-time employees more hours and open a second location.
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, showed his support for Small Business Saturday by checking out the goods at Mod Cottage Nov. 25.
Carper said he encourages shoppers to visit neighborhood businesses every day, but especially Small Business Saturday. “We need to boost our national economy, but we can’t forget to also lend a hand to the Main Street businesses right here in the First State.”
Jen White, co-owner of Downtown Cowgirl said this fall has been busier than previous years. “Usually we don’t have new merchandise this time of year,” she said.
Besides new clothing and accessories, shoppers can benefit from a storewide sale all weekend.
“Downtown Rehoboth is never as busy as driving past the outlets on the way here,” she said. “But we’re hoping for a good weekend.”
White said she worries Black Friday deals that begin on Thanksgiving will hurt Small Business Saturday. If people start shopping Thursday, they could be tired of crowds or finished holiday shopping by Saturday, she said.
White hopes shoppers will support stores that are closed on Thanksgiving to spend time with their families, she said.
Steve Crane, owner of Browseabout Books, said supporting small businesses has always been a popular concept downtown. “That’s what it’s all about,” he said.
Crane said the store stays busy from Black Friday through Christmas, and he expeced a large crowd Nov. 30. “It might be one of the top 10 busiest days of the year regardless, before Small Business Saturday started,” he said. “A lot of out-of-towners are back in the stores.”
Locals have already started shopping, Crane said. “We’re loaded with all the best Christmas presents,” he said. “We’re ready.”
Crane said Browseabout will offer gift-wrapping and feature some new items over the weekend, but most of the merchandise is already on sale. “I appreciate all the business all the time,” he said.