Local business owners have high hopes heading into Small Business Saturday.
Across Pittsburgh, hundreds of locally owned restaurants and retailers are offering specials, events and giveaways the day after Black Friday to drive up sales as part of a movement launched by American Express in 2010 to get holiday shoppers out of the malls and into the mom and pop shops.
Audrey Guskey, an associate professor of marketing at Duquesne University, said the movement has gotten a lot of attention so far this year.
“Small Business Saturday has been around for a while, but I think they’re really getting the buzz this year and a lot of media and a lot of people are really pushing it, and so, I think that’s a good thing,” she said.
According to American Express, $5.5 billion was spent on Small Business Saturday in 2012. That number increased 3.6 percent to $5.7 billion in 2013, and this year, Americans are expected to spend $5.9 billion.
Candice Gonzalez, executive director of the Southside Chamber of Commerce, wants to see some of that spending happen in her community.
“The true fabric of the Southside is really nurtured by the number of small businesses that we have here and the uniqueness of the businesses as well,” she said.
Shops and eateries stretching from Southside Works to Station Square along the East Carson corridor will be open all day Saturday.
Along with retail and restaurants, Georgia Petropoulous, executive director of the Oakland Business Improvement District, said the neighborhood’s Carnegie museums will also be participating in the commercial holiday.
“Taking advantage of a day not just to shop and eat, but Oakland has a great variety of cultural offerings too that you can bring a family down and people can come and participate,” she said.
There will be free parking at the Forbes Semple Garage and Petropolous’ initiative “Shop Small Shop Oakland” is giving away a $100 Apple Store gift card to one person who tweets a photo of themselves at a small business in Oakland to @only_in_oakland.
Shadyside is also working to make itself as accessible as possible for shoppers this weekend.
“Shadyside does have a great variety of things to choose from and on Small Business Saturday, everyone will be out in full force,” Tori Mistick, director of the Shadyside Chamber of Commerce, said. “We’re really excited also because there is tons and tons of free parking in Shadyside that day.”
The I Made It! Market, a pop up project by Think Shadyside, features the work of 20 local artists. Shoppers can pick up some photography, print art, jewelry, pet accessories and some vegan baked goods at the market at 809 Bellefonte St.
And for neighborhoods without large business districts, Saturday can be a reminder for residents to get out and explore.
“It’s a day that’s specially designated for them,” Amber Epps, commercial district manager for the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, said. “Of course they’re open all the time, but I think sometimes people, when something is associated with a larger event, they might be more inclined to come out. And, it could really boost the spirits of the business owners in our area.”
All parking meters will be free within city limits on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday as an incentive to shop locally. Councilman Dan Gilman also announced Tuesday that the next seven days will be known as Small Business Week in the city of Pittsburgh.