1,196,743 was the number of people who, as of Nov. 29, “like” American Express’ Small Business Saturday’s Facebook page.
" By supporting small business, you are allowing someone to live the dream another day."—Steve Strauss, in the American Express OPEN Forum
Black Friday began at a civilized hour at the Santa Fe Woman's Club, the venue for an annual weekend gift fair featuring local artisans and vendors.
By 11 am, jeweler Barbara Edelman, who organizes the fair—now in its fourth year—had seen repeat customers from the previous years. The recession may have impacted customers' spending habits—Edelman has seen some decline in the middle-range—but support for buying from locals is high.
"Especially over the last two years, we've seen a real awareness and support for people who actually make things," Edelman, who also sells at Jackalope and has a wholesale business (everydayartifact.com) with her husband, art printer Jeff Ryan, says.
The "buy local" trope hit the big time Thanksgiving weekend, when American Express rolled out its "Small Business Saturday" promotion, which incentivizes use of American Express cards at local businesses.
Simon Brackley, CEO and president of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, notes that while "there's an irony that a multinational corporation is encouraging people to shop with their local businesses," the message is the right one. "Any educational effort that supports people shopping in their local community is good," Brackley says.
Saro Calewarts, executive assistant for the Santa Fe Alliance, however, characterizes AmEx's promotion as opportunistic.
"It's an opportunity for a credit card company to get their card holders to spend more money with their American Express cards is ultimately what it comes down to," she says.
The Alliance's Dec. 4 Buy Local Bowl, on the other hand, is as local as it gets. Four teams, lead by Mayor David Coss, state Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, City Councilor Rosemary Romero and County Commissioner Kathy Holian, shop competitively in local shops. Last year's two Bowl teams spent $6,000.
Egolf, who lead last year's winning team, says the event serves multiple purposes.
"Several of the businesses we went to last year saw a little bit of an uptick," he says, and "it's symbolic to remind people not only the importance of buying from local shops, but also the ability to buy from local shops."
The event also promotes competition.
"We're going for it this year," Coss says. "We're recruiting a team as we speak."
The Buy Local Bowl coincides with national Buy Local Week. For Santa Feans, incentives to shop locally will continue throughout December, as the city will offer free parking at downtown garages and meters the following two weekends.