Owners bet on Small Business Saturday as the holiday shopping season kicks off

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) — Wearing a red beanie and a tightly tied scarf, Doug Abbey stands outside in the cold, ready to welcome shoppers to his pop-up store at a busy holiday market in downtown Washington DC. It’s an opportunity to promote his small business, iconsDC and his passion throughout the year.

“It’s called a change of direction late in life,” he says of founding his small business. “I was actually able to live out my passion for my city and for architecture. And so it was really joyful, although not as lucrative as I would have liked. But I’m having a good time.”

While holiday shoppers get a good look at the big deals on Black Friday, the US Small Business Administration (SBA) is hoping shoppers will turn their attention to “Small Business Saturday” on November 26th.

Each year, the SBA partners with American Express for public relations.

“It’s a great way for us to get back into the local economy and make sure we support all of their employees and the families who truly support these incredible moms and pops,” said US Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. She met with Gray Television Washington News Bureau reporter Jamie Bittner at the small business holiday market in downtown Penn Quarter.

American Express estimates that Small Business Saturday spending hit a record high of $23.3 in 2021. Billion. The National Retail Federation also reports that holiday sales increased nearly 14% last year from 2020 to a total of $889 billion.

The US Small Business Administration reported that nearly 62 million people are employed in the country’s 33 million small businesses.

Guzman acknowledges she still faces challenges as the nation continues the economic recovery from COVID-19. Still, she remains hopeful.

“We saw inflation slowing in the numbers last week and experts expect it to continue. Which I’m always shocked at because I’m constantly traveling around the country with small business owners, there’s so much hope and they’re so inspirational about the future. They’re investing in their businesses and counting on consumers to make it big this holiday season,” Guzman said.

Abbey reminds buyers that small businesses can offer diversity, choice and service. He also adds that there is a “feedback loop” that helps companies succeed.

“To stand in front of a customer or client and just get some kind of real-time feedback to find out what works, what they like and what doesn’t. You know, you don’t get that from Big Box,” he said.

How many people Abbey expects to come to the Christmas market on Small Business Saturday, he says, is hard to say. But he said: “I’m optimistic and I think people want to get out and they want to buy local.”