Small Business Saturday beckons Aspen shoppers |

Small Business Saturday beckons Aspen shoppers

Shoppers enter a crowded Ute Mountaineer on Friday. Today marks the sixth version of Small Business Saturday, which aims to drum up more commerce for local businesses like the Ute.
Jason Auslander/The Aspen Times |

A nationwide effort to bring attention and commerce to local businesses heads into its sixth year today as Small Business Saturday beckons shoppers.

Coming on the heels of the massively popular Black Friday, which often finds hardcore shoppers lining up for limited but hugely discounted deals at large stores, the effort was started by the American Express credit-card company in 2010 to benefit businesses that can’t compete on that level.

And while Aspen retailers don’t get slammed by mall-like crowds on either Friday or Saturday, employees of locally owned businesses said Friday they appreciated the company’s efforts.

“Whether or not it gives me a big Saturday, at least people are thinking that shopping locally is important,” said Maile Spung, co-owner of the Ute Mountaineer outdoor store. “It’s cool to see it actually makes a difference.”

Often, the Small Business Saturday event can remind locals to check in town before ordering something online or going elsewhere to shop, she said.

“I know we’re very limited here,” Spung said. “It’s like muscle memory to go online and not even think about (shopping locally).”

Jill Murphy, owner of Misstyx clothing store downtown, agreed that the idea behind Small Business Saturday is more important than how much business the event actually prompts today.

“The awareness is growing,” Murphy said. “Each year people are becoming more conscious about buying local.”

Spung said the event also has helped publicize the direct benefits of shopping locally. For example, shopping online provides zero percent benefit, while shopping at chain stores generally provides minimal benefit to the community. But a significant portion of the money spent at locally owned businesses remains in the community, she said.

With or without the local effort, however, downtown stores were chock full of shoppers Friday afternoon. One local business employee pointed out that while a lack of snow generally isn’t good, it can turn out positively because people want something else to do — like shopping.

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