Heather Wong was ready to greet and reward customers on Small Business Saturday.
Wong owns The Allspicery on K Street in downtown Sacramento and said it was the third time since opening in 2016 that her small spice store participated in the annual event, which has gained traction in the capital region and elsewhere. Wong remembers that her first experience with the shopping holiday came as a surprise – it was just so busy.
“It was pouring down rain and people were pounding down the door,” Wong said, adding that she knew the event would be big, just not that big, “People really go out of their way to go to the small businesses around town.”
Wong, who offered a free one-ounce bag of mulling spice for purchases over $50 and tote bags to the first ten customers Saturday, said this event was the first real indicator of how good the upcoming retail season is going to be for her business. It also serves as a way to showcase for customers what will be available during the holidays.
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Black Friday and Cyber Monday serve as the bookends to the busiest shopping weekend of the year, during which millions of consumers can head to their local mall or big-name box stores to scoop up all the best deals and discounts. But the Saturday after Thanksgiving is a national event that highlights the little guys.
An estimated 67 million people were planning to do some shopping on Small Business Saturday, with 78 percent of those consumers saying they will do so to specifically support small businesses, according to a news release by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
Sacramento Regional Transit offered a free “shopping shuttle” service Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., according its website. Shuttles ran every 20 minutes to “take shoppers throughout midtown, the Alhambra corridor, downtown, along R Street and in Old Sacramento.”
Shoppers also benefited from the city of Sacramento’s annual free holiday parking program, which allows people to park for free at metered spots after 4:30 p.m. during the week and all-day on weekends in portions of downtown, midtown and Old Sacramento – between I and L streets from Front to 29th streets. The program started Friday and runs through Christmas Day.
Jessa Jaochico and Vincent Phung brought their friend Patrick Arvidson, who is from Los Angeles, to the farmers market on J Street in midtown. While they knew it was Small Business Saturday, Jaochico and Phung said they had already planned to show Arvidson what local Sacramento had to offer on his visit.
“We wanted to support midtown and see local business Saturday, just to check out all of the good food, the good clothing, there’s some essential oils that are all from Northern California,” Joachico said. “We wanted to kinda show him around Sacramento, see what all the small businesses are about.”
Terri Rehg owns Art of Toys, a small online and retail toy art gallery located on 18th Street in midtown, and says Small Business Saturday is a nice promotion, although she would like people to come year-round.
She opened her shop on Friday per some requests but closed the doors by 3:30 p.m., Rehg said, adding there was just nobody in the area and most of the offices were closed for the holiday weekend.
“Black Friday means nothing to small businesses,” Rehg said. “If they’re shopping, they are at the mall.”