(WFSB) - Every week, we highlight small businesses in our Small Business Spotlight, but once a year, that spotlight shines even brighter on Small Business Saturday when the call to shop small is magnified.
The doors are open to our favorite shops around town after being hit hard during the pandemic, but during this holiday season, they need you open those doors.
"I mean, we are the basis of the economy. We are Connecticut. When you support a small business, you're supporting a family, so that's really important to do," Victoria Gleixner of BKind Boutique tells us.
"Definitely, during the pandemic, we renewed the sense of this understanding that small businesses won't survive without our support, so shopping small, especially during the holiday season, is what's going to keep them going," Joy Press, the manager of Manchester Downtown, stated.
Small Business Saturday was an initiative created in 2010 during the recession by a major company, American Express.
Eleven years later, small businesses on main streets in towns all across the country, including right here in Connecticut, participate in their own way with one goal in mind.
"This is a chance for small businesses to get their name out to get recognized by a corporation that's giving them that spotlight and reminding the community that it goes beyond this one day," local small business owner Sophia Dzialo said.
Sophia owns two small businesses of her own, The Claypen in West Hartford and the Firestone in Manchester.
She knows first hand that this spotlight needs to be 365 days a year and during the pandemic, she says she noticed other entrepreneurs were struggling so she created the Market 1115 on Main.
"We just had so many small businesses who were interested, who don't have the luxury of having a brick and mortar, who had no way to reach customers because large events were canceled and that's how it really started, just doing small business pop ups and once we realized how many small businesses that weren't brick and mortar were impacted, we knew that we had to go larger," continued Dzialo.
This Small Business Saturday, the Market is hosting forty local vendors along Main Street, their biggest event to date.
Manchester is just one town embracing the day.
"We are actually combining it with our Holiday on Main, so many of our downtown shops are going to have everything from our local children's theaters, going to bring some of their characters in costume to the coffee shop. We have pop ups with local venders. This mall's going to be doing a craft and face painting. We're going to have a little parade with Santa Claus. We will have our tic tac toe game making a return so you can complete challenges and enter to win prizes, so we have a lot going on," Press says.
Joy said these events foster a sense of community, which, after all, is what small businesses build.
"You know, when you start working locally, you really do effect everything in that community, not just that small business, but the money that's spent at a small business stays locally and so you're supporting the entire community," Marni Esposito of Moon Rocks Cookies noted.
"I wanted to keep my money in Connecticut and support the little guys, the little farms, the little farm stands, just keep it as local as possible and get people to not be so into buying from a chain, try something different, try something that's small, small biz," Susan Popielaski of Eco Coffee House explained.
And a great way to try something small, heading out on Small Business Saturday to see what's in your neighborhood or surrounding towns before you head to the computer to click and order.
"While small businesses may not be able to contend with the prices a large corporation can benefit from, even small purchases, you know, you're supporting many businesses at a time are important and it's not saying don't support any other business, but also recognizing that there are so many things rooted right here in Connecticut or beyond that have all of the things that you need to offer," said Dzialo.
All of the things you need and more, so before you head out to do your holiday shopping, a reminder...
"A small business is somebody's dream. It was somebody's idea, they made sacrifice. Almost every small business owner had to make some pretty big sacrifices to step it up and start so you're not just buying a gift, you're keeping somebody's dream alive," added Press.