Several area communities participated in "Small Business Saturday." The event has evolved from a marketing promotion to a component of the busy shopping weekend bordered by Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Officials say small businesses benefited from a huge swell of support from local residents. The weather was cooperative and those wanting to "buy local" scooped up bargains. "I haven't seen numbers, but I was downtown on Saturday and I was so heartened by what I saw. There were people everywhere, and they were walking with bags, meaning they were making purchases. So it was great to see that people were all over the streets supporting the small businesses, just as we had hoped.”
Troy Mayor Patrick Madden has made downtown revitalization a priority. Launched seven years ago, "Small Business Saturday" attracts an estimated 71 million Americans, according to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Katie Hammon, Executive Director of the Downtown Troy Business Improvement District, says the event has taken hold. "Businesses were definitely very happy. I think 'Small Business Saturday' is one of the best days of the year for them and they were very excited to have everybody downtown."
Anthony Capece, executive director of Albany's Central Avenue Business Improvement District, notes local shops geared up for the day well in advance... "...which is very unusual from previous years. So obviously it's taking hold with the small business owners. They're more aware of it, which is a big plus. I will say from our perspective as an organization that helps, the marketing materials that we get from American Express, donated, no charge, everything from balloons to buttons to the canvas tote bags, posters, doormats that welcome people, we're seeing those signs popping up on stores in windows, which helps promote it, and they're doing a ton of advertising, so it's really making the awareness higher and higher every year."
Despite the presence of big box stores, shopping malls and the ease of online shopping, Guilderland Chamber of Commerce president Michelle Violate Straight says turnout was heavy as the chamber showcased local home-based businesses at its office. "We helped promote some of the other events that were going on in the area. Some local fire departments actually hosted their own small business events too that we promoted for them. Within the next two or three years this 'Small Business Saturday' is really gonna be just like Cyber Monday or Black Friday. It's really branding itself well."