As shoppers hit the corporate chain stores across Missoula on Black Friday, locally owned businesses geared up for their own wave of patrons, hoping Small Business Saturday brings a year-end financial boost.
The annual event, held the first Saturday following Thanksgiving, celebrates the city’s small business community and for many, it marks the largest shopping day of the year.
“It’s a big day for us,” said Kyle Volk of the Missoula Wine Merchant. “Every day counts for us and Small Business Saturday is one of those days we hope we make some money. We’re super excited to have lots of people come out to downtown Missoula.”
While many shoppers headed to the national retail centers scattered across the city for door-buster sales, some avoided the crowds and headed downtown to jump on early sales, including 15 percent off mixed cases of wine at the Missoula Wine Merchant.
“What’s fantastic about Missoula is having a vibrant downtown,” said Volk. “That means good local businesses, small shops and having the community come out and support businesses like ours.”
This year’s event marks the eighth Small Business Saturday in the program’s history. Last year, an estimated 112 million Americans spent a combined $15.4 billion at independent neighborhood retailers and restaurants.
That income serves as the bread and butter to hundreds of local jobs and incomes. Without such community support, many local businesses wouldn’t exist.
“I love working here and don’t want to work somewhere else,” said Kelly McHugh at Cloth and Crown. “It’s nice working for actual people and somewhere unique and different. It’s way more personal for me. I consider the owner one of my friends and not just my employer.”
Statewide, nearly 41 percent of salary and wage jobs are supported by businesses that employ less than 20 people, according to the Montana Small Business Administration.
Many Missoula merchants also reported doubling their sales last year over the previous Small Business Saturday. In an era of online shopping, they’re upping their game and looking for new ways to appreciate their patrons.
“We like to celebrate our customers,” said Kim Arnot, co-owner of Red Rooster in downtown Missoula “We appreciate their patronage to our stores.”
For a listing of events, hot coco and more information, stop by the MSO Hub at 140 N. Higgins Avenue on Saturday from 10 am. to 3 p.m.