In 2010, American Express launched "Small Business Saturday" on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to bring more holiday shopping to small businesses.
At Kaufmans Menswear in downtown Great Falls, business is good. "Right now, downtown Great Falls is the place to be. There's so many great things to do,” said owner Brian Kaufman.
He is optimistic about Small Business Saturday coming up on November 26, despite inflation. He said inflation seems to actually be bringing customers in, not driving them away.
"They're coming by leaps and bounds more. Like I said, it's the small, rural economy,” Kaufman explained. "We’ve been crazy busy since 2018, but even during the COVID the town just came together. Downtown just came together as a partnership and it's just like one big family."
At Electric City Coffee House & Bistro, co-owner Thad Reiste is also optimistic about Small Business Saturday.
"We do see an increase,” Reiste said.
But here, inflation is having a different impact. "We've seen a dramatic downturn over the last couple of months,” said Reiste.
He attributed that in large part to people cutting back due to inflation and, despite increased spending during the holidays, the struggle to stay afloat may not get easier any time soon.
"Now, the holidays are coming. People are going to start stocking up on their savings, trying to make the Christmas holiday as good as possible. So we're going to take a little bit of a hit but we have a great community here. They've always supported our business as well as all the businesses downtown,” said Reiste.
Downtown Great Falls Association director Kellie Pierce said inflation has made an impact on businesses but both businesses and customers are adapting.
"I think people are getting more creative in the way they're spending their money and our businesses are getting more creative in the things that they're offering so they have the opportunity to adjust their inventory to meet the demands of the customers,” said Pierce.
Regardless of how people are adjusting, Small Business Saturday is likely to be the start of a busy few weeks downtown.
"Their holiday shopping season really starts that day (and) it just continues on through Christmas,” Pierce said.
Also on Saturday - the Downtown Great Falls Parade of Lights This year's theme is "Rudolph's Christmas Forest." The parade will begin at 6pm near Sixth Street and head down Central Avenue. Santa Claus will then light the Christmas tree in front of the Civic Center.
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