Small businesses make up approximately 90% of Key Biscayne’s retail stores and restaurants.
It’s no wonder that Small Business Saturday can be considered the island’s Super Bowl shopping Sunday, though a loyal customer base keeps Village store owners on a consistent footing year-round.
“We typically encourage our customers to shop locally on the day and we will encourage this through our social media,” said Christine Wing, director of marketing and member services for the Key Biscayne Chamber of Commerce.
In most cases, the island does not extend hours on November 26, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
“It’s a normal work day,” Wing said, though the number of shoppers is often larger when the holiday season begins.
At The Island Shop at the Key Biscayne Shopping Center on Crandon Boulevard, for example, the store was packed with customers at lunchtime last Friday.
Beatrice Arismendi, who has run the store with her sister Anna Maria for 11 of his 30 years, is simply grateful for the year-round traffic the store, which sells everything from baby clothes to household goods, generates.
“We are very fortunate and blessed to have clients year round,” said Beatrice. “So it doesn’t make all that much of a difference (on Small Business Saturday), but we’re grateful (of all of our customers).”
Business always seems to be sizzling at the gourmet market Golden Hog at Harbor Place Shopping Center.
“Thank God we have good, loyal customers,” said Jorge Gonzalez, who has owned the corner hotspot (formerly known as the Key Biscayne Farmers Market) with his wife Mariana for 12 years.
Being open on Thanksgiving Day to provide catering services dampens the small business rush to the Golden Hog on Saturdays.
“Thanksgiving is a very good day for us; probably more people are shopping that day,” said Gonzalez, who only closes the store on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
He likes the idea of enticing customers to help small business owners, but all year round of course.
“We focus our small business on serving the local community, and that inspires a lot of loyalty,” Gonzalez said. “People like this type of business rather than buying from the bigger companies who are happy to take the money but don’t invest it back into the community.”
Founded by American Express, Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to supporting the diverse local businesses that create jobs, boost economies and improve neighborhoods across the country.
According to American Express, reported spending by US consumers who shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on the 12th edition of Small Business Saturday last year hit a record high with an estimated $23.3 billion.
Mary Tague, owner of Toy Town in The Square on Crandon Boulevard, where Legos, Barbies and Hot Wheels are still among the best-selling items, said she hasn’t seen this surge in recent years.
“For the first year or two, American Express marketed it with perks (discounts), but then three or four years later, they didn’t provide the incentives,” she said. “Honestly, I was very happy about it at the beginning; it was great that they wanted to support small businesses. But I’m a small business and I didn’t know (Small Business Saturday) still existed.”
The American Express company was launched to compete with the “big box” stores that largely dominate Black Friday.
US Small Business Administration (SBA) Chair Isabella Casillas Guzman, the voice of the nation’s 33 million small businesses, is calling on Americans to “shop small” this holiday season, and especially on November 26th.
She cited a stabilizing economy, a record 8.5 million new small businesses opening under the Biden-Harris administration, and economic aid programs to support those new business owners.
If the stars are right, November 26th could be profitable for small businesses across America, including Toy Town, which celebrated its 25th anniversary on April 1st.
“I wish it were,” Tague said. “You’d better hurry up (to promote it).”
To learn more about Small Business Saturday, visit www.sba.gov/saturday or click here.