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 fairly new 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, the associate state director for 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.”
For Small Business Saturday, take your business to downtown Delaware. Not sure where to go? Here are some ideas, throughout the state.
Catch the annual Wilmington Jaycees 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, Spaceboy Clothing and Wright & Simon—not to mention the many dining offerings.
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. The independent bookstore is participating in Indies First, a national campaign of activities and events. Maggie Thrash, author of “Honor Girl” and “We Know It Was You” will be at the store from noon until 2 p.m., and David Teague, author of “The Red Hat,” “Saving Lucus Biggs,” “Connect The Stars” and “Henry Cicada’s Extraordinary Elktonium Escape” will be there from 2–3 p.m.
Some other local favorites include Gift Horse, Designer Consigner, Gateway Garden Center and Everything but the Kitchen Sink.
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. Check out Femme Fatale Boutique for women’s clothing and accessories and Fromage, the popular cheese shop. First & Little has adorable finds for moms and babies.
For a list of everything downtown Middletown has to offer, head to middletownmainstreet.com.
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.
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, Carltons Men’s and Women’s Apparel and Downtown Cowgirl. The Wooden Indian has a great selection of home accessories.
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.
What are your favorite local shops in Delaware? Share them in the comment section below.