MARIETTA - Marietta merchants are encouraging area residents to fortify themselves with leftovers, whip out their shopping lists and head downtown today for Small Business Saturday.
Downtown shops will be offering sales, gifts, food, drinks and more to celebrate the annual event, which puts the holiday shopping focus on local brick and mortar establishments instead of the big box and online retailers that typically dominate Black Friday.
"It's important for shoppers to recognize that they do have independence and small businesses downtown are what keeps the downtown area alive," said Ken Kupsche, owner of The Cook's Shop on Front Street in Marietta.
Small Business Saturday was introduced in 2010 and it has gotten bigger every year, said Kupsche.
"We're stocked to the gills. I've got merchandise in the back hallway and running up the stairs. We're excited," he said.
Like many retailers, Ken and wife Dagmar Kupsche plan to offer several discounts on certain products and product lines throughout the store during Small Business Saturday.
* Founded in 2010, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is a day where residents are encouraged to patronize local independent businesses.
* Several community businesses will be offering specials and serving treats throughout the day.
* The Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau will be sponsoring free carriage rides for downtown Marietta shoppers from 3 to 5:30 p.m.
* Following the Marietta Christmas Parade, Santa Claus will be visiting Cheeseman's Bait Shop in Harmar to talk and take pictures.
* More information can be found on the Marietta Main Street Facebook page or at their website, www.mariettamainstreet.org.
Source: Times research
And while Ken is hoping the day introduces more people to the idea of shopping locally, for him it is about celebrating the customers who have made that practice a way of life.
"There's a group of people that seem to get it and they shop local all year long," he said.
Shopping in one's community keeps money local, he added, and cited statistics that for every $100 spent locally, $68 dollars returns directly to the community.
"In a chain only $43 stays and if you spend that money online none of it goes to your town," he said.
Shopping locally gives customers a personal touch lost at the bigger stores.
At Rossi Pasta, retail manager Linzy Smith and other employees have been diligently putting together custom made gift baskets.
"We've been working like Santa's little helpers making these baskets to be on sale. It looks like Santa's workshop down here," said Smith.
All of the store's custom made baskets will be 10 percent off for Small Business Saturday.
The artists of Riverside Artists Gallery have been decking the halls in anticipation of today.
"We had a day that everyone came in and pitched in to decorate inside and out," said artist Melissa Rohrer.
Everything in the store - from oil paintings to stained glass pieces to cards to pottery - will be 10 percent off on Small Business Saturday.
The store has also created a special section of gifts under $50, said Rohrer.
Many local businesses will also be treating customers to food and beverage treats on Saturday.
Teri Ann's, which is hosting a holiday open house through Sunday, will be serving up bread and hot chocolate from local independent businesses, said owner Teri Ann Pfeffer.
Small Business Saturday has become one of Pfeffer's favorite shopping days of the year, she said.
"There will be families downtown shopping that have come from afar and they remember what it was like to shop in downtown Marietta. It's picturesque. We offer something unique and people recognize that," said Pfeffer, who will also be giving away poinsettias with every weekend purchase.
After the Marietta Christmas Parade, which will wind its way through town starting at 1 p.m. today, downtown shoppers can also enjoy free carriage rides provided courtesy of the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The carriage rides run from 3 to 5:30 p.m. and depart from the CVB at 119 Greene St.
Also following the parade, Santa Claus will be making his way to Cheeseman's Bait Shop in Harmar to hear Christmas wish lists and pose for pictures.
Kim Flowers, who recently opened Cheeseman's Bait Shop with husband Rick, said she is looking forward to her first experience on the other side of Small Business Saturday.
"I hope to be busy. I know I always shopped on Small Business Saturday so I hope others do too," she said.
In addition to Santa, the shop will be serving hot chocolate and candy canes and shoppers at Cheeseman's will be entered into a raffle that day, said Flowers.
The Workingman's Store will be offering 10 percent off storewide today, said owner Dave Schramm.
In addition, local radio station WMOA will be broadcasting live from the store's front window from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, collecting donations of toys and stuffed animals for the Christmas Zoo.