Customers ready to shop local for Small Business Saturday

- Droves of holiday shoppers are expected to shop local on Small Business Saturday.

In Old Town Alexandria, small businesses are getting ready for the big boost and so are shoppers.

Locally-owned boutiques and shops line King Street -- one of the main stretches in Old Town Alexandria.

There are plenty of reasons to shop local.

“Being military and moving around a lot, we always like to support the local shops, so more than likely we’ll be back down checking out what other shops have to offer,” said Arlington resident Erin Vargas.

“I will definitely participate because we have family in town and Old Town is such a special place for anyone who comes here,” said Old Town Alexandria resident Julie Halladay. “I like to support the small businesses in my community.”

Alexandria boasts that it is the D.C. region’s Shop Small headquarters for Small Business Saturday. Businesses throughout the city will offer special promotions, including merchandise discounts, gifts with purchase and complimentary services.

New this year are the Random Acts of Holiday Cheer, which will surprise Alexandria shoppers with an elf prize patrol, caroling in the streets, a swag bag giveaway and the “Spot a Bag” contest.

The National Retail Federation says one in four holiday shoppers are planning to shop small this year and they are planning to spend more money than those who do not shop small.

“Small Business Saturday is pinnacle to our business period,” said Jerome Fell, training and inventory manager for the Spice and Tea Exchange. “The majority of our traffic is foot traffic. Combining that with the idea that we want to endorse locally-owned small businesses, it’s amazing. It puts us on the map.”

Small business owners are reportedly at an advantage because they have developed a relationship with their customers and know them inside and out and can adapt their products to suit those needs. Everything you could want to know about Small Business Saturday is under the hashtag #ShopSmall.

On the flip side, critics say Small Business Saturday is just another marketing tool by American Express. The company created the shopping holiday five years ago.

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