Big retail chains might get all of the attention on Black Friday, but this Saturday is dedicated to the little guys.
The Downtown Business Association will be hosting its Small Business Saturday event on Nov. 25 — an annual attraction aimed at encouraging residents to shop local and in the downtown area this holiday season.
“We’re really proud of (the event),” said Melanie Farmer, president and CEO of the DBA. “This is something that is dear to our hearts. Our goal at the DBA is to promote our downtown businesses and bring people downtown to support our downtown.”
After a 9 a.m. news conference Saturday at Fallgatter Rhodes Insurance on G Street, participants will be treated to a brunch with champagne at the Padre Hotel, located at 1702 18th St., followed by the opportunity to shop at several downtown businesses. Vendors will also be setting up shop on sidewalks downtown.
Also on Saturday is the Visit with Santa at Merry Go Round Antique Mall, set to go at 1407 19th St. Parents can get free photos of their children as well as their pets between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Think Green Pedicabs will be on hand during the event to provide free shuttle service for those who need it.
Farmer said participating businesses will offer discounts and amenities. She said the association expects that 25 to 30 stores will participate, a few more than last year.
“Each store will have something going on to help celebrate Small Business Saturday,” she said. “They’re all doing their own thing.”
Encore! Boutique on Eye Street, one of the participating stores, said it will offer $25 gift cards for $20. Catherine Skow, director of retail operations, said they will also likely offer discounts off some of their other items, but said the details are still being worked out.
“It’s a fabulous idea,” Skow said of the event. “We’re very pleased with the association for supporting downtown businesses as thoroughly as they do. We’re excited about participating again this year."
Businesses that sell food are also getting involved in Small Business Saturday, such as Johanna's Ice Cream and Candy Shoppe. The business opened earlier this year and is participating in the event for the first time by offering 25 percent off anything in the store.
"It's a way for us to put ourselves out there and let everyone know we're still alive and thriving," said Joe Estrada, who co-owns the business with his wife, Cheryl Mattley. "We want to give everyone a chance to taste our quality chocolates and ice cream."
Every $10 purchase at any participating business will earn buyers a coupon to enter a drawing to be held at 4 p.m. at the Marriott Hotel on Truxtun Avenue. Farmer said each participating store contributes a prize for the drawing.
The event then wraps up with Champagne and dessert.
Farmer said she expects about 100 people to participate. Over the five years the DBA has held the shopping event, she said it’s grown bigger and bigger, with more stores, vendors and members of the public participating.
“People definitely seem to want something like this downtown. They see the need to help these businesses,” she said. “It gives the stores new energy and encourages them to stay open. Having the community embrace this has been amazing.”
Skow credits the DBA event for not only drawing people downtown, but also getting them into the stores.
“Drawing people downtown is one thing, but the key is to get them in the store,” she said. “If we can’t sell to them when they’re in the store, that’s our fault. If we can get them in the store, I’m confident that they will be so pleased with what they see that they will purchase something.”
Farmer said the increasing size and scope of the event has caught the attention of local representatives of American Express, which started the nationwide effort.
“They want to meet with me about how to make next year’s event even larger,” she said. “They have noticed what we’ve done, which is amazing. We’ll be meeting after this one is over.”
Shoppers can attend the brunch and get their passport to participating stores for $35 per person. People can also purchase the brunch or passport separately at $20 each.
For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the DBA at 325-5892 or BakersfieldDBA.com.