Small Business Saturday in and around Chattanooga pushes local-first holiday shopping

Staff file photo / Susan and Andy Harper walk along Frazier Avenue in November 2021 leading up to Small Business Saturday at Northshore shops in Chattanooga.

Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is the day people are urged to shop local, and keeping money close to home can make a big difference for small businesses.

"We have a wide variety of diverse small businesses in our downtown," Dawn Hjelseth, River City Co. vice president of marketing and communications, said Wednesday in a phone interview.

"There are a lot of new businesses that have started since the pandemic," Hjelseth said. "Then we have businesses that have been part of downtown for generations. Small Business Saturday is an opportunity for people to really recognize the contributions of our small businesses to our community."

Small businesses as a group are among the largest local employers, she said.

(READ MORE: Tips for a safe holiday shopping weekend from Chattanooga's Better Business Bureau)

Small Business Saturday -- founded by American Express in 2010 and officially co-sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Association since 2011 -- has become an important part of small businesses' busiest shopping season, according to the Small Business Association. Historically, reported projected spending among U.S. consumers who shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday reached an estimated $23.3 billion, according to the 2021 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey commissioned by American Express.

The Small Business Association, Women Impacting Public Policy and American Express urge consumers to support the nation's nearly 32 million independent businesses this Small Business Saturday and throughout the rest of the holiday season.

It's all about joining forces, because everyone benefits from a team effort, Hjelseth said.


"When you're supporting small businesses, you're supporting your neighbors as well," said Catharine Daniels, owner of half-century-old Plum Nelly Shop and Gallery on Frazier Avenue. Daniels, the fourth consecutive woman to own the gallery since it opened in 1972, is president of Northshore Merchants Collective.

Seasonal efforts among the North Shore's locally owned businesses started the weekend before Thanksgiving and kick into high gear on Small Business Saturday, she said.

"Many of us have different specials going on that celebrate our neighborhood and businesses like our shops that carry locally made goods," she said Friday in a phone interview. "Like us, we're having a trunk show to celebrate one of our artists, and I know other businesses are doing similar things."

(READ MORE: Holiday weekend in Chattanooga area offers mix of Thanksgiving, Christmas traditions to entertain)

The pandemic demonstrated how fragile some local businesses are, she said.

"With COVID, people were reminded if they don't support the small businesses around them, they're not going to be here long," she said. People should realize much more of the money spent with a locally owned businesses stays in the community, she added.

"There are overwhelming financial benefits to it as well as a feel-good for supporting your neighbors," she said.


On the other end of downtown, local nonprofit organization The Chattery is hosting its Small Business Saturday market featuring 14 local businesses, according to a news release. The organization was founded in 2014 to boost local business through education and promotion.

The market is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at The Chattery's classroom space at 1800 Rossville Ave., Suite 108, according to organizers. Admission is free. The event will feature vendors selling goods and services ranging from permanent jewelry and snacks to CBD bath bombs and artwork, according to the release.

"Shopping for gifts during the holidays can be a laborious process, and we think our markets take the stress off of shoppers by providing a fun shopping experience," The Chattery co-founder Shawanda Mason said in the release. Downtown businesses up the ante and holiday spirit for Saturday, the release. The market will feature a complimentary hot chocolate bar and music.

"By adding elements like music and complimentary beverages, we're allowing shoppers to take their time and enjoy shopping from local vendors," Mason said.


Small Business Saturday focuses customers on hometown businesses and helps fill the retail sales gap between Black Friday and Cyber Monday for Terra Running Co. on the courthouse square in Cleveland, Tennessee, owner Brittany Katz said.

"Being a locally owned business, we have a lot of customers who make a point to support us because we're a small business all year long," Katz said Tuesday in a phone interview.

"MainStreet Cleveland does kind of a cross-promotion with all of the small businesses, and then we do our own special sales and giveaways on Small Business Saturday, too," Katz said. "This weekend between Black Friday and Sunday are our busiest days of the year, so it's definitely important sales-wise."

In 2016, Katz added the Cleveland store to the one she opened in Blue Ridge, Georgia, in 2015 that has since closed, she said.

"We get a lot of local customers and new people looking to spend their money that day, especially at small businesses, so we're excited about it every year, she said."

Contact Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.