By Tom Momberg
The Friday after Thanksgiving has for decades been known as the busiest shopping day of the year.
The term “Black Friday” is used to describe the point in the year when big box retailers begin to turn a profit, as opposed to operating at a financial loss, or “in the red,” from January to November.
Independent store owners often see flat sales between the first of the year and the start of the holiday season.
Though the Black Friday deals might be appealing, only about $43 of every $100 spent at a national chain actually stay in local communities, according to the national public awareness campaign, the 3/50 project. About $68 of every $100 spent at an independent, locally owned store will be cycled back through the community in the form of taxes, payroll and other expenditures.
That is why American Express introduced Small Business Saturday in 2010, the day after Black Friday — to encourage the people around the nation to support small local businesses over big box stores.
The credit company encourages local business improvement districts, civic organizations and businesses to sign up for free marketing materials to rally the small stores in their communities.
Margaret Ioannou, the owner of Karma Boutique, 38-27 Bell Blvd., is a Small Business Saturday champion in Bayside, collaborating on an event with other businesses every year who sponsor food and gifts. She is planning to bring the event back again on Saturday, giving customers 25 percent off in the store. Last year, over 200 people attended.
“We make it into a fun little event for the community. This really helps promote small business, and we need it more than anybody,” Ioannou said. “This is a way of giving back to our community. We are a big part of this community.”
Like Karma Boutique does for Bayside, there is a neighborhood champion in almost every commercial district in Queens, rallying businesses to host events and put on discounts to bring shoppers out.
Since 2010, Small Business Saturday has grown every year to become a new holiday tradition. American Express estimated about $14.3 billion was spent at independent stores around the country in 2014.
The Queens Chamber of Commerce supports small businesses throughout the borough that want to take part in the day.
“Anything the Chamber can do to drive small business, not just on Small Business Saturday, but all year long, I think is really important,” Queens Chamber Executive Director Thomas Grech said. “We are going to try to concentrate our efforts on ‘shop local, buy local’ on a regular basis. And American Express is a great partner.”
“It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of what the major chain stores have to offer during this time of year, but it is important to also remember that we have so many wonderful shops and restaurants that are locally owned, right here in our backyards,” state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said. “Every dollar spent at a local small business is a dollar that goes back into the economy here in Queens, preserving jobs for our family members and neighbors, while helping small businesses to stay open.”
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb