As Americans sharpen their knives to carve turkeys on Thanksgiving, local businesses are sharpening their pencils and hopefully their bottom lines with a growing new trend.
Consumers spent $5.5 billion at locally owned and operated businesses on Small Business Saturday in 2012, according to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express. The former instituted the shopping event on the Saturday following Thanksgiving in 2010.
Dawn Dunn, manager of Menagerie Thrift and Gift Shoppe, said she's glad the store, which raises money for the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County, will participate Saturday for the first time this year.
Some rituals involve stockings or sweet potatoes, but Small Business Saturday offers sales. Businesses across Warren, Trumbull County and the Mahoning Valley reward shoppers who survive the pandemonium of Black Friday with discounts, promotional sales and other deals.
Dunn said the day is about reciprocity.
"The local community is so important to us, so we want to show our appreciation and that we're here to serve them," she said.
Tony Paglia, spokesman for the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, said small businesses rely on revenue from their neighbors and a strong local economy benefits everyone.
"These are our local businesses. They employ local people. A lot of commerce takes place locally because people shop in their communities," he said.
Small Business Saturday is also a way for businesses to remind the community of the services they offer.
"Part of any retrial business is how they market and advertise themselves. Making them stand out among the rest," he said. "Every business knows best about how they do business."
James Economos, owner of Warren staple Saratoga Restaurant and Catering, joined his family's downtown restaurant 50 years ago when the city was "bustling" from the steel and manufacturing economy of the last century.
"It was just a different world then. People were all over the streets," he said.
He said small businesses need local support more than ever, and the holiday season remains an important time for local businesses since the Mahoning Valley's economic downturn.
For Economos, that means more families and organizations that need catering for their celebrations.
"We have bigger events at other times in the year, but the volume is greater during the holidays," he said.
His restaurant is closed on the weekends, but he hopes shoppers will consider other local spots Saturday.
"It's a big time of the year for anyone," he said. "Especially business owners."
Michael Leveto, owner of Handyman Hardware in Champion, said shoppers can reap the rewards of Small Business Saturday as well.
He said his 40-year old business has persisted in the community because of attention he is able to provide to each customer.
"We're small enough to provide personalized service," he said. "You want to get into a place, find the product, figure out how to put it on or fix the item in your home and get out of the store as quick as possible."
He helps them personally if he can, because he knows they're more than customers, they're neighbors and friends. And a customer buys more than goods and services from a local business, he or she invests in the community.
"It's nice to have people come in and shop," he said. "We're here to help."