Toy Boat Toy Boat Toy Boat, a Corona del Mar toy store, is serving up free food and children's arts and crafts projects.
World of Wigs in Santa will have an open house with door prizes and hourly flash sales.
Laguna Beach Books is offering 50 percent off selected art books.
The OC Mart Mix of 25 retail vendors in Costa Mesa has planned live music, a Santa booth and photographer, specialty holiday drinks and sales at many vendors.
These Orange County businesses are just a sampling of offerings that shoppers will find on Small Business Saturday.
Deliberately sandwiched between the Black Friday extravaganza at major retailers and the Cyber Monday online shopping promotions, Small Business Saturday seeks to grab some early holiday shopping dollars for local, independently owned businesses.
"Small Business Saturday is about Main Street, not Wall Street," said John Kabateck, executive director of National Federation of Independent Business California. "It's about the entrepreneurs and families who have put everything into stores that offer what chains and e-commerce companies don't: Something different, something special, from handcrafted gifts to genuinely friendly service. It's also about supporting the local economy."
American Express started promoting Small Business Saturday in 2010 to encourage shoppers to support local merchants. That was an outgrowth of a program called 3/50 Project that asked Americans to identify three local businesses they couldn't do without and spend at least $50 at those companies. Now Small Business Saturday is separate and grows bigger each year.
Last year, American Express concentrated on making consumers aware of Small Business Saturday and estimates that 500,000 businesses and more than 103 million shoppers participated. This year, the credit card giant reached out to business organizations and shop owners urging them to offer something special for the event, said Patricia Norins, a retail expert who is working with American Express.
"Just under 50 percent say they will incorporate Small Business Saturday as part of their holiday strategy," Norins said.
To encourage participation, American Express has provided marketing materials that owners can download from ShopSmall.com, such as online banners and logos, 11-by-17-inch signs that FedEx Office will print for free, social media and email templates. Through 100 selected chambers of commerce nationwide, American Express is distributing hundreds of $25 American Express gift cards, welcome mats, shopping bags and balloons
The Fullerton Chamber of Commerce is one of the selected groups, said President and CEO Teresa Harvey. "We have participated in Small Business Saturday in the past but not to this extent. We're involved because we see the importance of small business to the local economy. When people shop locally, the money says in the local community."
Kabateck added, "Small businesses are usually owned by people who have a vested interest in the community, in its schools, in the quality of life. It's no accident that small-business owners are among the most generous supporters of civic groups, local charities, youth sports and schools."
Because of the chamber's coordination, 44 Fullerton businesses are stepping up with their own unique offers. Capri Shoes is offering 15 percent off non-custom shoes and 30 percent off selected items. Road Kill Ranch will provide free gift wrapping for purchases over $100 and Ace Hardware is giving a 20 percent discount, Harvey said.
In addition to the champagne reception, Lolo Boutique is opening an hour early at 10 a.m. and will stay open as long as the store has customers, said owner Susan Upton. The boutique is introducing a new product line, My Flat in London, which has a drawing for a free trip to London. "Partnering with the chamber makes it so much easier; united we have a bigger footprint," Upton said.
Lori Curtin at Toy Boat is featured in an American Express commercial promoting Small Business Saturday, but she said she couldn't get her local chamber or neighboring merchants to band together for Small Business Saturday. "I've been telling our customers to go online to register their American Express card to be eligible for drawing for free gift cards. We have signs in the store, and we plan to make it as festive and fun as possible. We need all the help we can get."
At OC Mart Mix, many of the retailers are adding their own specials to the activities planned by the center, said spokeswoman Allison Olmstead. For example, Deer Lovely, a women's clothing boutique, and Whiskey Tango 1977, a companion men's store, are offering 20 percent discounts on most merchandise from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Analog music shop is offering 50 percent off all day and a free vinyl record with a $50 purchase. Stoned Jewelry will mark everything down 15 percent. Milk & Honey Baby boutique is extending its 20 percent discounts through Sunday.
"There are no parameters for participating in Small Business Saturday," Norins said. "Each customer and business is different."
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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