As shoppers chase Black Friday deals at the big box stores and malls on the biggest shopping day of the year, local businesses are gearing up to welcome shoppers on Small Business Saturday.
The Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, the city and many local businesses have partnered to offer special holiday deals to shoppers in an attempt to promote independently-owned businesses.
The National Retail Federation estimates that more than 165 million people will shop over Thanksgiving weekend, including a staggering 66 million people that are expected to turn out on Small Business Saturday. The NRF also forecasts that between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion will be spent throughout the holidays.
“The tradition of Thanksgiving weekend holiday shopping has become a five-day event with consumers spending money in stores, supporting local small businesses, and online with their mobile devices and computers,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a news release.
Patricia Bourne, the city’s director of economic development, said that the city and chamber have partnered to promote special holiday deals offered by local businesses on their social media and online platforms — including Facebook, Instagram and the city’s Long Beach Life website — that will help remind shoppers to support independently owned stores, boutiques and restaurants.
“I suggest that anyone who’s thinking of going out on Saturday, check out the list and find that it runs everything from restaurants to photographers to clothing stores and anything you can think of,” Bourne said. “It can very well be an opportunity to save money and entice someone to go to a new business they have never been to before.”
She added that supporting local businesses is important because local businesses support the city’s tax base, provide local jobs and help attract visitors.
“People still want to go into a store to smell a perfume, touch a sweater, to talk or get advise from a person — people like the authenticity and participatory nature of going into a store and having someone to talk to and that is what local business does,” Bourne said.
Ian Danby, chairman of the chamber’s board, also stressed the importance of supporting local businesses.
“I think that it’s so important to support small businesses because they are the heart of our community,” Danby said. “That’s our livelihood if we want our community to thrive.”
Danby, owner of Cybernet, an internet development company, said that advertising through social media is more effective these days and helps spread the word on local deals faster. Although there are many businesses that are taking advantage of Small Business Saturday and the free advertising on social media, he encourages more small businesses to join the Small Business Saturday initiative.
Chamber board member Kelly Sullivan said that Small Business Saturday and a number of chamber and city events in town help get businesses through the slower winter months.
“We try to keep business flowing into Long Beach in the off season to help support our businesses,” she said. “December, January and February tend to be the slowest months around here. “We’re going to do an online social media campaign that encourages people to shop locally and share their experience online.”
Sullivan added that the chamber works throughout the year to help small businesses and encouraged residents to visit local shops in town.
The chamber’s initiative will also include a holiday window-decorating contest with local businesses that kicks off on Small Business Saturday, in addition to the West End Electric Light Parade on Dec. 14, which are part of an effort to attract visitors to Long Beach.
Dan Monteforte, co-owner of Swingbellys, the popular barbecue joint in the West End, said that the eatery is offering an additional $20 gift card with the purchase of a $100 gift card throughout the holidays. He said that Swingbellys is expecting a heavy turnout during the holidays and is booked with Thanksgiving catering orders.
Swingbellys is among the 35 retail, food and other businesses that have partnered with the chamber and the city this year to offer special deals and promotions. Monteforte said that the initiatives local establishments thrive during the holiday season.
“The tight-knit community in Long Beach will get behind local businesses,” he said. “Without our neighbors, we’d be nothing, especially around this time.”
For a full list of all participating businesses, visit www.thelongbeachchamber.com/small-business-saturday.