Small Business Saturday: a Gift that Keeps Giving

By KBJR News 1

November 26, 2011 Updated Nov 26, 2011 at 9:16 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - On "Small Business Saturday," it's not just about finding the best deal.

"You gotta support your local businesses—keep it special, keep it local," said local shopper and musician Matt Wasmund.

For many shoppers on Saturday, it's more of an opportunity to return the favor.

"I love shopping local, and I love shopping in Duluth, because there's a nice community feel. You get personal attendance for everything," said local shopper Lori Kulas.

First celebrated in 2010, Small Business Saturday was created by American Express as a counterpart to Black Friday. The goal: encouraging holiday shoppers to patronize "brick and mortar" business—both small and local.

"We're all neighbors. We're all interconnected, and if you keep your local businesses running, you support us, you're supporting the local economy, and you're keeping us employed," said Maria Combs, manager of locally owned and operated store "Wintergreen."

One Northland location in particular that emphasizes the small business mentality is Fitger's Complex—home to over 13 locally owned and operated shops—like Wintergreen, which specializes in some very Northland–friendly gear.

"We're a local company. We're based out of Ely, so we make pretty much all of the clothing you see here. We really specialize in outerwear—cold weather gear for the weather around here," said Combs.

And while many local shops simply can't afford to give customers the sometimes jaw dropping deals that national chains and surplus stores can, shops—like Wintergreen—always make sure to offer everything they can to their cherished clientele.

"We have 15% off store–wide, so that includes all of our Wintergreen made items," said Combs.

For shoppers on Small Business Saturday, however, keeping alive what makes the Northland unique is the best deal one could ask for.

"It's keeping a local—kind of a local flavor around. It's character to the city, rather than bringing in a bunch of generic looking buildings," said Wasmund, enthusiastically.

"You just get more in the spirit. You walk into Fitger's here and right away you're like, 'Christmas!'" said Kulas.

And for both small business store owners and holiday shoppers alike, making Duluth the city it is through the simple choice of keeping it local is the best gift anyone could ask for this holiday season.