Thanksgiving is inevitably an enjoyable but exhausting day. You’ve cooked,cleaned, and [over]indulged in that last delicious bite of pumpkin pie. By the time night falls, you’re exhausted and ready to hit the hay. So why on Earth would you even consider waking well before dawn the next morning to deal with the mall mayhem that is synonymous with Black Friday?

This year, skip setting the alarm and stay in bed because Small Business Saturday is the new Black Friday. And when you’re lucky enough to live at, work in, or visit the greater Lake Tahoe area — at the holidays or anytime — wouldn’t you rather a picturesque view and fresh mountain air while you’re strolling the main shopping drag than sitting in your car ready to battle for a parking spot at the mall?

In 2010, as the nation was dredged in a recession, American Express declared the Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday in an effort to boost sales at small businesses, thereby benefiting local economies. Shoppers and businesses took note and by
the following year, the Shop Small movement had begun.

According to the Small Business Administration, there are 28.8 million small businesses (defined as those with 500 employees or less) in the United States, accounting for 99.7% of all businesses in the country. In 2018, an estimated 104 million consumers reported shopping or dining at local, independently owned businesses on Small Business Saturday, spending an estimated record high of $17.8 billion, per the 2018 American Express Small
Business Saturday Insights Survey.

“The shop local movement has provided a platform to talk about the importance of  supporting small businesses,” explained Liz Bowling, communications director for North
Lake Tahoe Resort Association (NLTRA). “In a region where a vast majority of retailers are independently owned and operated, shopping local ensures that dollars stay in our communities and the economy continues to thrive.”

LOCAL FLAIR: Shoppers looking for that perfect gift in Incline Village. Courtesy photo

With Thanksgiving often coinciding with ski resort opening dates, there is usually no shortage of folks to patronize locally owned and operated stores and eateries, many of which will run sales and special events to entice shoppers to explore the variety of wares they have to offer. As a haven for artists and artisans alike, the Truckee/Tahoe area is filled with a never-ending supply of unique gift ideas to make the holidays memorable for those you love. From original paintings and photography to woodworking and jewelry, you’re sure to find a more personal gift choice when you shop at small businesses where items are often hand-crafted, as opposed to mass-produced, poor-quality merchandise typically offered in big-box stores.

“North Lake Tahoe has five distinct shopping districts that are highlighted regularly through various marketing campaigns and digital channels,” Bowling said. “We do this to encourage visitors and residents alike to shop local and experience the knowledge and flavor of our artisans, gear experts and culinary stewards.”

While organizations such as the North Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, NLTRA, Tahoe City Downtown Association, and Truckee Chamber of Commerce use various outlets to draw people to the area, it is the business owners themselves who need to entice shoppers to walk through their doors.

“Small Business Saturday is one of my busiest days of the year,” said Jaclyn Woznicki, owner of Trunk Show in Tahoe City, a shop in the Cobblestone Center that sells exclusively handcrafted items from local artisans. “It’s especially helpful as it falls right in the middle of our fall/winter slow season and as long as I have my store properly stocked, it turns out to be a profitable day that helps us coast through until mid-December.”

Over by the lake, Tahoe City Downtown Association celebrates the day with the Tahoe City
Holiday Hop. Woznicki and other shop owners add to the day with appearances by the artists themselves, as well as special offers, food, music, and refreshments. This year, her shop will welcome illustrator Lisa Kurt, and guests can enjoy local and organic tastes from Tahoe Teas (with an optional spike of rum for adults 21 and over). Other shops scheduled to participate as of press time include Willard’s Sport Shop, Alpenglow Sports, Tahoe Dave’s Board Shop, and Wanda’s Floral & Gift, with others sure to join in the festivities.

“We see a pretty even mix of locals, visitors, and second-home owners in the shop that day, and many of them tell me that they choose to support small businesses rather than participate in the Black Friday mayhem at big box stores,” Woznicki said. “We show our appreciation by making it fun. Days like Small Business Saturday remind me how great our community is at showing up and supporting each other. A busy day full of good sales, hellos, and hugs is everything a shop owner in a small town works for!”