Major retailers get much of the attention on Black Friday, but the holiday shopping season’s second day is all about smaller businesses.
Nov. 26 is Small Business Saturday.
American Express launched the event during the 2010 recession, encouraging holiday shoppers to support the small, independent businesses that are so essential to every community.
The event gained momentum a year later when Congress unanimously passed a resolution supporting the event. Elected leaders also joined forces with trade groups, communities, business associations and others to form the Small Business Saturday Coalition. It’s since become a holiday tradition.
Here is a guide to help you “shop small” this holiday season.
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Shop Made in D.C., which has a number of locations around the area, will open a gift box pop-up shop in Georgetown, at 2920 M St. NW, throughout December. Shoppers can buy signature boxes “filled with goods from makers all over the DMV,” or shop “a la carte,” said Stacy Price, co-founder and CEO.
Shop Made in D.C. — which also has a storefront at 1304 Wisconsin Ave. NW — works with hundreds of makers around the region. It’s expanding with locations in Maryland and Virginia as well.
“Supporting local business is imperative to keeping business alive,” Price said. “What I feel so proud of is that when you support our businesses, you’re not only supporting a locally-owned business, but you’re supporting a locally-owned business that supports close to 1,000 other businesses.”
Restaurants and other shops in Georgetown will mark Small Business Saturday with some special promotions. Find more information on the Georgetown Business Improvement District’s website.
Another good online resource for finding D.C. merchants is the Shop in the District website. It features a store directory that allows shoppers to filter by neighborhood and other categories, such as “eco-friendly” and “LGBTQ-owned.”
In Southeast, a pop-up market featuring local Black-owned businesses is set for 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at St. Thomas More Catholic School, 4265 Fourth St. SE. Merchants can reserve a free spot at the market by visiting Eventbrite.
The 18th annual Downtown Holiday Market runs through Dec. 23 on two blocks of F Street Northwest between Seventh and Ninth streets. (The market is closed Dec. 5.) The market will feature dozens of small businesses and entrepreneurs from across the region. See a full rundown of exhibitors on the Downtown Holiday Market’s website.
“Holly Days” returns to D.C.’s Eastern Market for a sixth year starting Saturday. It will feature “unique gifts from around the world sold by local small businesses,” both indoors and outdoors. And on Saturday at 5:30 p.m., shoppers can see the lighting of the Capitol Hill Christmas tree at Eastern Market Metro Park.
See a rundown of hours on the Holly Days website, and check out a full list of Eastern Market businesses on the Eastern Market Main Street website.
Participating businesses in the Barracks Row neighborhood will offer discounts and other specials on Saturday, and some will extend throughout the holiday season. In addition, shoppers who buy from a participating Barracks Row business will get a $5 gift card to use at another local business from Friday, Nov. 25, through Sunday, Nov. 27.
Find more information on the Barracks Row Main Street website.
And in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood, Shaw Main Streets is again marking Small Business Saturday with the fifth-annual City Market at O Holiday Celebration, near the intersection of O and Eighth streets Northwest from 4 to 7 p.m. Shoppers can enjoy free candy, cookies and hot apple cider.
Shoppers can also get a little help before they tackle that shopping list. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Shaw Main Streets tent at City Market at O, they can pick up $20 in “Shawbucks” that can be used as cash at any participating businesses that day only. See a list of participating retailers on the Shaw Main Streets website.
Dozens of merchants in Alexandria will mark Small Business Saturday with discounts, free snacks and free gifts with purchases.
A number of pop-up markets will be open as well, including at Port City Brewing Co. on Saturday and at 110 S. Union St. Friday and Saturday. (An outdoor market will be held near the intersection of King and Strand streets.)
Shoppers are also encouraged to support Black-owned businesses in the city on Small Business Saturday as well as “Plaid Friday.”
Find more information on the Visit Alexandria website.
Shoppers who couldn’t find the perfect gift on Saturday can check out “Museum Store Sunday.” The National Women’s History Museum and the Alexandria Archaeology Museum are among several in the city (and region) that will take part. Find an interactive map of participating museums on the Museum Store Sunday website.
In Fairfax City, shoppers can take part in the city’s fourth annual Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt through Dec. 5. It begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at 10415 North St. Twenty-five elves will be hidden inside participating businesses. Shoppers who locate five of them and make at least one purchase at a participating business can enter a raffle for a $50 gift card.
Learn more about the scavenger hunt and download a “passport” on the Fairfax City website.
In Loudoun County, Bear Chase Brewing Company in Bluemont will hold an “Old World Christmas Market” Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
And one week later on Dec. 3, Old 690 Brewing in Purcellville will host a holiday market from noon to 5 p.m. It will feature “a variety of unique vendors selling pottery, candles, jewelry, decor, lotions, soaps, jellies, and more.”
A pop-up holiday market featuring “unique and handmade gift items from local artisans” is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Silver Spring along Ellsworth Drive, between Georgia Avenue and Fenton Street.
Then, on the following Sunday, Dec. 4, shoppers can check out the Christmas Market and Holiday Craft Show at Veterans Plaza from noon to 4 p.m. There will be “over 80 artisans, crafters … and other local small businesses.”
Farmers markets are a good option for finding something made by a small business. And in Montgomery County, shoppers can celebrate Small Business Saturday by checking out the vendors at the market at Veterans Plaza in downtown Silver Spring. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Find a full list of vendors here.
Another farmers market in Montgomery County is at Kensington’s historic train station Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Shoppers who need to pick up produce Saturday can also find potential gifts, such as olive oil, tea, cheese and baked goods.
And in Gaithersburg’s Kentlands neighborhood, shoppers can find a number of delicious gift options during the Saturday farmers market — including spirits, juices and coffees — from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Ellicott City is bringing back its “OEC Bucks” promotion this year. Each is worth $10, and they’ll be available starting at 10 a.m. during a Shop Small Saturday kick-off event at the Welcome Center. All Old Ellicott City merchants will accept OEC Bucks through Dec. 31.
In Prince George’s County, the city of Laurel has brought back its Small Business Passport Program. Shoppers can pick up a passport from the Municipal Center, collect six stamps from six different participating businesses and be eligible to win a prize basket. Passports need to be returned by Monday at 4 p.m. A drawing will be held the following Thursday.
In addition, shoppers can enjoy coffee and donuts from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at 378 Main St.
Several businesses in Hyattsville will offer discounts throughout November and December. And through Dec. 31, parking will be free in city lots.
Hyattsville shoppers can also take part in a “Spot the Snowflake” scavenger hunt from Saturday through Dec. 16. Shoppers who get 10 stamps and return their passport can enter a raffle for “a gift basket of goodies” from local businesses.
One brewery in Prince George’s County, Robin Hill, will mark Small Business Saturday with an event featuring over 50 vendors as well as live music and food trucks. (Shoppers also have the option to pick up a bottle of wine for that special someone.)
Find a directory of small businesses in Prince George’s County on the county’s website.