Tis’ the Season to Shop Small

This year, give a gift to local businesses by shopping locally on Nov. 28 for Small Business Saturday.

On Black Friday, sleepy consumers line up throughout the night at big name box stores in hopes of scoring a deal, but Saturday brings a calmer crowd and one interested in supporting the local businesses. Small Business Saturday is still a new shopping holiday compared to its counterparts, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but since 2010 it has been encouraging consumers to shop locally.

As a small state filled with small towns, Delaware has always strived to support small businesses. “Small Business Saturday is an awareness builder during Christmas time when retail dollars are the most important,” says Barbara Necarsulmer of the Small Business Development Center. “We all want a community to live in, to grow in. We want towns with locally owned stores and products.”

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For Small Business Saturday, take your business to downtown Delaware. Not sure where to go? Here are some ideas, throughout the state.

Wilmington

Catch the annual Christmas Parade at 11 a.m. followed by endless shopping and activities. What started as a small promotion of local businesses has become a full day event with a parade, live music, family-friendly activities, food and great deals to kick off the holidays.

“A whole family could come down and there is stuff for everybody,” says Ken Grant, a media consultant with Downtown Visions and community supporter. “This year is the biggest offering yet—you’re going to find things at these small businesses that you are not going to be able to find anywhere else.”

With over 300 small businesses in the Wilmington area, it is hard to narrow it down to a few favorites. Some local favorites include Levitea, Al’s Sporting Goods, Nzinga, World Café Live at the Queen and Spaceboy Clothing—not to mention the many dining offerings. Get the rundown of everything Wilmington has to offer on Nov. 28 here.

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Jerry’s Artarama

From left: Bloomsberry Flowers, Spaceboy Clothing

Hockessin

With no mayor, Hockessin’s small businesses are left to run the show. Charles Shattuck, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited and member of the steering committee for the Hockessin Business Association, says that the local businesses step up in running local events and making sure the community thrives. Many business owners have even adopted a piece of public space in Hockessin for basic landscaping and maintenance. “We keep the town beautiful that way,” he says. “I am invested because I am living in this community.”

Dozens of quaint shops line the streets of Hockessin, but one local favorite is the Hockessin Book Shelf. For Small Business Saturday, they have invited Sharon Huss Roat, author and Delaware resident of Between the Notes to sign copies of her book from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Some other local favorites include Gift Horse, Designer Consigner and Everything but the Kitchen Sink.

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Middletown

Each business in the small town of Middletown is doing something unique for Small Business Saturday. Keep an eye out for balloons outside the shops participating in the daylong sale extravaganza. According to Tracy Skrobot, the executive director of Middletown Main Street, Inc., most businesses in Middletown are independently owned so it is important to get the word out. “They’re your neighbors, your friends,” and adds, when you shop locally, “the money stays within the community, which is huge,” she says.

Skrobot works with all of the small businesses throughout the town so she has a hard time picking a favorite because they all are her favorites, she says. She recommends Femme Fatale Boutique for women’s clothing and accessories, and adds that Fromage is a crowd favorite. “You can’t go in there without getting something,” she adds about the popular cheese shop.

For a list of everything downtown Middletown has to offer head to https://middletownmainstreet.com.

Dover

The state’s capital is where history and community collide, but don’t forget about the small businesses in downtown Dover too. According to Necarsulmer, “Over half of the work forces are employed by small businesses in Delaware,” so it’s important to support them.  

In small towns, it can often seem like there aren’t any choices for shopping, but between Bel Boutique, Style Encore and dozens of food options there’s enough to keep anyone busy any day of the week. Check out nearby Milford for a peek of Santa and Mrs. Claus at 11 a.m. and a small business scavenger hunt in downtown from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, check out downtown Milford’s Facebook page.

The Beaches

Despite the ushering in of cold weather, don’t count out the beach communities, all of which have plenty of charming local shops.

One favorite is Blooming Boutique for clothing, shoes, handbags and more located in downtown Lewes, Milford and Rehoboth. Another stop for unique clothing and accessories is the popular Twila Farrell in Lewes. Shoppers also enjoy include Aquamarine, Hula Sue, Main Street Antiques and Salvaged Furniture Parlour.

From Claymont to Selbyville, the first state uses this holiday to expand the relationship between local businesses and community members. “I see small businesses as the backbone of the community and everybody looks at the big stores, but it’s all of us small ones employing local people,” Shattuck says.

But supporting small businesses shouldn’t be a one-time thing. Skrobot says, “Think of us all year long, not just on this day.”

What are your favorite local shops in Delaware? Share them below in the comments.

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