This year’s holiday season couldn’t get here fast enough for some people, with radio stations eschewing tradition and playing Christmas tunes shortly after Halloween, not waiting for Thanksgiving.
That cheery music, it seems, then serves as a trigger for some stores to begin decorating their front windows with images of Santa Claus and Christmas ornaments.
And now that Thanksgiving has arrived, merchants are hoping shoppers are properly primed to pounce on sales during Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24 for those special — and hopefully inexpensive — gifts to place under the Christmas Tree.
Initiated in 2010, Small Business Saturday occurs the day after Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that has been hyped since the early 1960s as the biggest Christmas shopping day of the year. This is when shoppers go berserk in search of good deals, literally trampling one another in department stores all over the country just to be first in line for whatever new game or gadget may be hot at the moment.
In recent years, Cyber Monday came to be coupled with Black Friday as a major sales day, with shoppers opting to avoid the chaos of mall shopping and make purchase online from the comfort of their homes.
According to American Express, which started the program eight years ago, this year 1.7 million businesses across the country will take part in Small Business Saturday, including stores in Pasadena, Altadena, Glendale, Monrovia and Arcadia.
Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to help keep some of those holiday shopping dollars at home by patronizing brick and mortar local mom-and-pop stores.
Over the last several years, Black Friday sales revenue has been diminishing. According to CNBC, Christmas creep, as holiday shopping way too early has come to be called, is partly to blame for the decreasing Black Friday sales, since more retailers have started spreading out sales and promotions after Halloween, rather than on a single shopping day or weekend.
In Pasadena, there are 200 independent stores in the Old Pasadena shopping district alone, with many expected to participate in this year’s shop-at-home program.
This year Pasadena is adding to its annual “Shop Small” campaign, which encourages people to walk the districts and discover the businesses, to include “Dine Small” in an effort to drive business to local eateries.
The citywide campaign is filled with discounts and other freebies at local restaurants, clothing stores, boutiques and thousands of other businesses.
“Independently owned and operated stores help create the character of a city and the soul of a commercial district,” said Eric Duyshart, who runs the city’s Economic Development Department. “Local residents should make a regular habit of consuming the wonderful goods and services these businesses provide.”
Shoppers are encouraged to pick up a tote bag at one of the three welcome stations located at Audio Element, 117 E. Union St., Crowned Studio Salon, 86 N. Fair Oaks Ave., and Pie Hole, 59 E. Colorado Blvd. — all in Old Pasadena — before visiting other local businesses.
Ambassador guides in the city’s Playhouse District will surprise unsuspecting visitors with Amex gift card prizes ranging from $20 to $100 at businesses within that city shopping district every weekend in November.
“We don’t have an actual event. Every day we are featuring a small business on social media and encouraging people to go to them,” said Playhouse District spokesperson Jessica Calderon.
Despite Old Pasadena’s status as one of the hottest destination shopping and dining locations in the region, many small businesses continue to struggle, while others have been forced to close due to exorbitant rents.
Vroman’s Bookstore in Hastings Ranch will hold a special Indies First event to bring together authors, readers, and publishers in support of independent bookstores. Authors and local celebrities will volunteer at events across the country, and publishers will offer special terms on books and exclusives.
This year Jenifer Lewis will discuss her book, “The Mother of Black Hollywood.”
“We encourage people to shop at small businesses 365 days a year, but it is nice to have a day that highlights those small shops, restaurants and service providers,” said Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Paul Little. “They certainly deserve it. The hope is Small Business Saturday draws in new people that will become new customers. We have great retail outlets, restaurant and services.”