Small businesses in retail districts across the suburban Baltimore/D.C. region will be offering promotions and other enticements for shoppers who want to buy local for the holidays.
More than a dozen public, private and advocacy organizations, supported by American Express OPEN, the company's small business unit, have teamed up to declare Nov. 26 as Small Business Saturday. (Full dislosure: American Express has signed on as a sponsor of small business-related content on Patch during the holidays.)
The day aims to help small businesses in the area that may suffer on Black Friday.
''I don't do massive volume on Black Friday. The day doesn't impact small business like the big box stores,'' said Mary Martin, owner of Contrary Mary's in Sykesville.
Small businesses in Westminster are offering special promotions for holiday shoppers this weekend, and on Saturday, the community will be kicking off several holiday events.
There will be an electric parade, a Christmas tree lighting, Santa sightings and a host of other festivities.
Downtown Reisterstown is another retail district with unique offerings that “you are not going to find in a shopping mall,” said Glenn Barnes, president of the Reisterstown Improvement Association.
“There are people who love to take drives from Montgomery County, Howard County,” he said. “They love to go to places where they can go to unique shops to find gifts for people.”
And Historic Ellicott City is offering the ultimate treat: free parking.
County Executive Ken Ulman announced this week that parking will be free in the more than 140 metered spots in the Historic District from Nov. 25 to Jan 2.
“Ellicott City is a fabulous place to visit and shop anytime of the year,” Ulman said in a statement. “And if free parking helps, even a small bit, we want to help local small businesses weather this challenging economy.”
And Main Street's annual Midnight Madness is scheduled for Dec. 2. Restaurants and stores will stay open late and officials will come out to light a Christmas in front of the tourism office.
-Brandie Jefferson and Kym Byrnes contributed to this story.