Sandwiched in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes a chance for local shops and restaurants to shine: Small Business Saturday.
The day is a favorite of Michelle Schaffer, owner of the Pop Shop on North Market Street. She says people are usually out in big numbers to see the holiday lights and boats on Carroll Creek after Thanksgiving weekend.
“I think a lot of people do really utilize this as a great time to go and shop local and small,” she said.
Many small businesses have deals on Small Business Saturday, too, similar to Black Friday. The Pop Shop will have deals on pints of ice cream and milkshakes, and is also including a sticker in every purchase.
Bill McCoughlin, co-owner of DISTRICT Arts, said the gallery is offering a $100 gift card for $75 throughout December. As a 1-year-old business, he said he’s not sure what to expect from Small Business Saturday, especially with the pandemic still present.
Small Business Saturday is also a chance to highlight businesses throughout Frederick County. But Julie Martorana, chairwoman of the board of directors for Brunswick Main Street, is disappointed that this year’s festivities have had to be cancelled due to COVID.
Brunswick Main Street usually puts together an artists’ market on Small Business Saturday, using one of the vacant properties for sale downtown. This year, they planned on moving the market outside, but then the Frederick County Board of Health put a restriction on gatherings over 25 people.
While Martorana says downtown Brunswick does get some more activity this weekend in normal years, she conceded it doesn’t always make a huge difference. Many Brunswick residents, she said, are used to going to Frederick to get gifts and other items.
“I think it’s important to say we do have things here, to break that habit of thinking that we have to go somewhere else,” Martorana said.
Martorana says about three businesses in Brunswick have closed since the start of the pandemic. Main Street Brunswick has been working with business owners to help them pivot to online sales.
She said the pandemic did help bring traffic to the C&O Canal during the warmer months, which trickled over to some nearby businesses. But she still hopes people can keep smaller towns like Brunswick in mind when doing their holiday shopping and not just as an outdoors destination.
“Most of our businesses downtown, one person works there, and that’s the owner,” she said. “So there’s not a lot of meat on the bone start with. So when we have the impact of something like COVID, it’s really stretching them.”
Helen Propheter, director of the Frederick County Office of Economic Development, said she and her team have been pushing the theme of shopping local throughout the entire pandemic, knowing small businesses would be the hardest hit.
With the holiday season looking different for many families this year, she urges shoppers to think about getting some pick-up food for desserts or sides to help support restaurants. Another way to support local businesses during the holidays is to get a Christmas tree from a local farm.
“Whatever people are able to do this year, if they can think about the plan that they have and remember our Frederick County businesses and that plan, we sure would appreciate it,” Propheter said.
The year has certainly been trying for mosts businesses, and Schaffer said the Pop Shop has been no exception. But the support from the community has made a huge difference, especially with the use of Facebook groups like “Everything Frederick” and “Frederick County Dine In & Take Out.”
“We’ve been really fortunate to have made it this far,” Schaffer said. “And a lot of it is really due to all of our local customers, within the city and within the county, who have taken all of our changes that we’ve had to do in stride ... and supported us in it.”