Elizabeth Brinkama said she constantly hears from customers that they don’t know what they would do without her business.
Brinkama, the manager for Now and Then — a gift shop in Takoma Park, said her business relies on local residents for their patronage to stay afloat.
“We are the ones who will support your local sports team, who will host bake sales and jewelry sales and Girl Scout cookie sales for your kids,” Brinkama said.
For the third year in a row, Now and Then will be participating in Small Business Saturday — a day to help small businesses get exposure on the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday — despite the holiday being sponsored by American Express.
“When the first year happened, there was a lot of backlash. A big corporation was sponsoring something that was geared to help small businesses,” Brinkama said, adding that her business won’t have any special promotions for Saturday. “Sometimes in life, David and Goliath do have to work together. It is through their corporate financial ability to promote it that has made it such a success.”
Germantown resident Vaughn McCandlish works at The Covered Market in Takoma Park, which specializes in accessories and home decor. He said supporting local businesses is “critical” to the community and his business’ livelihood. The store has participated in Small Business Saturday for about two years and will offer 40 percent off goods this year.
While McCandlish said it is not one of his business’ highest producing days, which he said tends to be the week before Christmas for retail, he said it is nonetheless the beginning of the holiday season that can either start on the “right foot forward or the wrong foot forward.”
“As long as the community patronizes it, it’s very important to us being a small business. It gives us the extra kick we need to be profitable during the year,” he said.
Silver Spring Regional Services Center Director Reemberto Rodriguez said Small Business Saturday is important for the community. He said it does not compete with Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but rather is another option for consumers.
“It’s a wonderful way to bring small businesses to the forefront as we do our holiday shopping,” Rodriguez said.
This is why Megan Moriarty, manager for Fenton Street Market — a weekly marketplace in Veterans Plaza in downtown Silver Spring — is so excited for this Saturday’s holiday market, which will feature 75 different local vendors ranging from bath and body products to hand-made, imported crafts. Moriarty said most of the vendors that sell at the market sell their products either online, out of their homes or solely at markets such as the Fenton Street Market.
“It gets good visibility and we think about the market as connecting micro-businesses and small entrepreneurs to the market [and] to customers. So, this is a great day for us to do that,” Moriarty said. “Small shop Saturday is not about who branded the idea, but it’s just an opportunity to encourage our neighbors to support each other through how they spend their money.”
Sarah Gingold, founder of Silver Spring-based Think Outside the Store, which encourages people to explore alternatives to store-bought fashions, said one of the biggest issues with being a small business owner is getting the word out about her business.
“It’s really important to have that community of people who know where you are and support what you’re doing,” Gingold said.
While she does not see Small Business Saturday as the answer to the problems small businesses face, she said supporting small businesses is about giving back to your own community.
“Although there is that big box feel, there is also a community of people in Silver Spring that want to support small businesses and creative things,” Gingold said. “What we’re trying to promote is that it’s really the thought that counts. Whether it’s thinking about the person you’re buying from, and also who made it and where it’s coming from.”