Between the stampedes of Black Friday and the online frenzy of Cyber Monday, residents took to their neighborhood bakeries, shops, and boutiques Saturday to support small businesses.
“The idea is to shop small, and I have a small shop,” said Kate Layte, 28, who had just opened the doors of her new Jamaica Plain bookstore, Papercuts JP, on the morning of Small Business Saturday.
Layte, a Jamaica Plain resident, said that “people really care about their neighborhoods and know that when they buy at local stores, that money is going to go back into the community.”
Small Business Saturday, started in 2010 by American Express, is a nationally recognized day when residents are encouraged to shop locally. It aims to help smaller stores compete during one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year.
Some stores offer discounts to shoppers who use their American Express card on this day.
“There was a little bit of skepticism at first,” said Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. Few small stores would accept American Express when the program started, he said, but the company promotes the campaign heavily and it has grown beyond the limits of a single card.
In Cobwebs, an antiques store in Jamaica Plain, Maura White searched through nutcrackers, dinner sets, and ornate mirrors.
White, 60, came from Quincy to visit some of her favorite shops in the area for Small Business Saturday. She was looking for a carved bust to give to her daughter.
“I try to come over a few times a year,” she said. “It’s such a beautiful store.”
Patrick Byrne opened Cobwebs 24 years ago. Sales usually boom around the holidays, he said. Saturday was expected to be fairly busy, in part because of the campaign.
This time of year is heavy shopping season, and many cafes or bakeries get more customers on weekends, so the boost from the campaign can be hard to pinpoint, Hurst said.
Many stores earn up to a third of their yearly profit during the holidays, making the season a pivotal time, Hurst said.
Following the recession, “too many small businesses have gone dark,” he said.
Fiore’s Bakery in Jamaica Plain has participated in Small Business Saturday for the past few years, said owner Charles Fiore.
Molly Norton and Matthew Bonds, both 38, sat at a table with 2-year-old Maxwell Bonds, who was clutching a bagel. They live nearby and come into the bakery every weekend.
They try to support neighborhood businesses, and “it’s easy to live by that philosophy because most stores [in Jamaica Plain] are independently owned,” Norton said.
Small businesses are very interconnected and supportive, store owners said.
Layte decorated her bookstore with work from local artists. Cobwebs donates about 20 percent of its estate purchases to local stores and charities.
Carolina Tejedor-Meyers, 37, who owns Caramelo Clothing Co. in Jamaica Plain, said the store partners with clothing companies in Fall River and Stoughton.
She and her sister stood holding balloons outside the store for a quick photo, next to window decorations drawn by Tejedor-Meyers’s young son.
The family-run store tries to take advantage of any local business event, and Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity for them, Tejedor-Meyers said.
“We spend endless hours working here, so it’s wonderful to see local communities spending so much time [on small businesses],” she said.
At a tree lighting event on Main Street in Roslindale Village, Mayor Martin J. Walsh paid homage to the owners of the small places, as he launched the Holidays on Main Streets campaign and announced the first mayor’s holiday challenge: #5onMain.
Walsh challenged residents to buy at least five of their holiday gifts in small stores on Boston main streets, to support the local proprietors.
“The people who invested their life savings here did it because they love the community,” he said, after the Sacred Heart chorus sang carols beside him.
Small Business Saturday is every Saturday for Bill Hahn and his wife, Jennifer Park, who have lived in Roslindale for 17 years.
“If you want to have a a little village area, you have to support that area,” Park said of the marketplace where they often shop.
Hurst had seen a good number of shoppers in local stores on the North Shore Saturday. He hopes community support for small businesses will continue to grow.
“It can’t just be a one-day phenomenon; it has to be year-round,” he said.
Jennifer Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org