Saturday, November 26, 2011

Small Business Saturday

I suspect most people have heard of Black Friday (the traditional day-after-Thanksgiving start of the holiday season) and Cyber Monday (the Internet's big shopping day the Monday after Thanksgiving), but do you know about Small Business Saturday? The term was coined by American Express last year to promote the advantages of shopping in small, local shops. This year the U.S. Senate designated Nov. 26 as Small Business Saturday to help promote the day nationwide. Today Tony and I did our part to support our small merchants.

After breakfast we got our things together and headed out the door. Our first stop wasn't exactly a small local shop. but I think going to a Fair Trade Market honors the spirit of the day. The Fair Trade Market at Manchester United Methodist Church claims to be the largest market of certified Fair Trade vendors and products in the US. For several years we've made it a tradition to shop there the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Tony and I entered the Market together, and even started with a communal shopping bag, but soon we parted ways to do our own thing. We came back together when we were done and checked out at the same time, being careful to choose cashiers that weren't close to each other. I bought a hair barrette made with shiny snack packaging and a shopping bag constructed from a recycled sari that fits into a very small pouch. I may or may not have bought some Christmas presents. Tony bought me these cute Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus Ten Thousand Villages earrings. I think they'll be a nice conversation starter at work. He probably got some other things, but I guess I don't need to know what they were.

There are several neighborhoods in our area that have concentrations of small businesses. I let Tony pick the area, and he chose the city of Maplewood. Much of the city's shopping district runs along Manchester Road about twelve miles east of us. When we got there it was easy to find a parking space along the street. We got out of the car and started walking. There were a couple of gift shops we passed on, and we didn't need to go in the beauty salon, but we enjoyed browsing in a small hardware store, a pet store, and a store that sold oils and vinegars. The office supply store was closed, as was the typewriter repair shop. Although it's technically not a small business, we stopped into the Penzeys Spice store (the only one in the area). I may or may not have bought some more Christmas presents.

When we got hungry, we weren't too far from Schlafly Bottleworks (a local microbrewery), so we decided to eat lunch there. Their restaurant offers food from as many local farmers and businesses as possible, and lists many of their suppliers on the last page of the menu. We each had a soup and sandwich combination, but passed on dessert, because there was one more stop we had to make on the way back to the car--the Kakao Chocolate shop. We sampled several confections, and bought some things. Some of them may or may not have been holiday purchases.

After several hours of shopping, Tony and I were both ready to call it a day. I'm pretty sure it won't be the last time we support small businesses, though!


  1. Black Friday appears to have been madness yesterday. What a surprise! I didn't expect that. We went to the BX and bought a ladder and came home. Then we heard on the news that the Walmart near us was totally mobbed. I don't understand it.

    I wish there were more small businesses near us. Aside from restaurants, I don't know of many.

  2. A typewriter repair shop? What decade are you living in?I gave away my typewriter years ago because I couldn't get ribbons for it.

  3. Sounds like you had a lovely day and supported a good cause.

  4. i always feel better making a purchase at a small, local business than a corporation of any kind. the internet must get more user friendly to view what's available locally instantly and easily.