Lisa Longo recalls when Small Business Saturday started. Over the past 20 years in her shop, Finestra Gallery, this day has become not only her favorite day, but the best thing to do for her business.
For the first two years of its opening in 20, Finestra was located in Paynesville before moving to 4076 Erie Street. In the heart of Willoughby. The realization of how many small businesses have suffered during the pandemic made last year’s Small Business Saturday a success, Longo said.
“It’s really an option to support small businesses,” she said. “Everyone did.”
During the 2010 recession, American Express created Small Business Saturday, which takes place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. According to American Express, the day is designed to encourage people to shop smaller and bring more holiday shopping to small businesses. With the success of the first Small Business Saturday and the growing momentum of the small shop movement, local officials across the country took notice and decided to publicize the day. In 2011, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution supporting the day.
Today, officials from all 50 states participated, according to Amex.
“I remember Black Friday weekend before Small Business Saturday,” Longo said. “Small stores like mine really can’t compete with the crazy sales of big box stores. People are looking for great deals and I just can’t offer that kind of discount.
“Small Business Saturdays are a great idea, and start small. It’s a grassroots effort to boost small businesses that are hurting.”
For the first year, Amex credited cardholders $10 to their credit cards if they shopped at a registered small business, Longo said, who remembers registering her business online.
“They’d send you little bags and cards and stuff to give away in the store,” she recalls. “It was, and still is, the best day. All my best clients always come. After all these years, it’s caught on. Now, it’s like Black Friday.”
In its first year, Longo said, many customers didn’t know what Small Business Saturday was. The following year, she recalls, Amex advertised it on TV and people immediately supported it.
“Black Friday was driven to the big stores,” Longo said. “It’s just getting bigger. It’s the nature of small businesses and it’s a day when people are focused on not going to Target, Costco and online.”
At Stella’s Art Gallery, 38033 Euclid Ave., Small Business Saturday is a favorite.
“I feel like we’ve really met local people who support us, and the energy it creates is a sense of home,” said gallery co-owners Dani Klein and Carol Pitts. “We do have specials, and we’ll be selling some art.”
Everything in Stella’s Art Gallery is done by local artists. The gallery currently houses over 65 artists, 11 studios, two showroom galleries and over 50 artist booths. The gallery has since expanded upwards, adding three new studios and eight artists.
“It’s a way for people to communicate their work to the public, and that needs to be there,” Klein said. “We’re a different gallery, we think of ourselves as a working art gallery, so when someone comes in, Not only will they see artwork, but they’ll see the work of an artist here and there.
“There are always some artists working on something, and we encourage everyone to come into the studio and explore.”