Local stores have their day after competitive shopping.

By Jason Buch : November 30, 2013

Small Business Saturday

Photo: Mayra Beltran, Houston Chronicle

Juanita Del Toro didn’t wrestle anyone for a $99 television.

She didn’t use her shopping cart as a battering ram, plowing through rival customers as they scrambled through a department store looking for a deal on the latest gaming system.
And she didn’t make anyone sleep all day on Thanksgiving so they could wake up in time to help her find bargain deals before daybreak Friday.

Instead, Del Toro, 50, spent Saturday checking out handmade jewelry at a low-key art fair on Carson Street.

“I feel like a lot of the corporations open on Black Friday, and even on Thursday, are already criticized for exploiting their workers,” she said. “I feel like Black Friday exploits them more.”

She was taking part in a national movement to counter the competitive consumerism of Black Friday by encouraging people to shop at local stores on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Spearheaded by American Express, the event has gained steam in recent years. Unofficial participants, like the Little Shops at Wonderland of the Americas and Maker’s Market on Carson Street, took advantage of the buzz surrounding the effort to promote local artists and offer deals on the day after Black Friday.

At Pica Pica Plaza on Southeast Military Drive, Edna Galindo, the owner of Gigi Accessories and More, said she started offering discounts Friday and decided to carry it over to Saturday. Banners in the indoor market promoted Small Business Saturday, and shoppers were handed bags emblazoned with “Shop Small” as they walked in the door.

When asked Saturday afternoon if she thought the promotion had been successful, Galindo said, “It’s been good. We’ve been steady today, so I think so, yes.”

Many people wandering between the shops at Pica Pica, however, said they just happened to come in on Small Business Saturday. Daniela Lopez, 46, looked for tiaras for her daughter and said she skipped Black Friday. She regularly comes to Pica Pica, Lopez said.
“It’s much calmer,” she said.

Shari Coar was in town from Lafayette, La., visiting a friend in Jourdanton and said she had been looking forward to visiting Pica Pica.

“I’ve been wanting to come here,” said Coar, 37. “I love flea markets and all the little shops.”

Representatives of Pica Pica said it is not a flea market, it’s a minimall with smaller retail spaces that local businesses can afford.

Over at the Pearl Brewery, ground zero of all that is hip and locally produced in San Antonio, business bustled like they do on most Saturdays. A number of the stores had sales on for Small Business Saturday, and Claudia and Tom Robison were taking advantage, buying some Christmas gifts for friends up north at Melissa Guerra Latin Kitchen Market.

“I think it’s great,” Claudia Robison, 66, said of the push to market local shops. “I can do without Black Friday.”

When buying gifts for friends out of town, Tom Robison, 67, said he tries to get them “something a little more San Antonio.”

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