HELENA — Since 2010, the Saturday after Black Friday has been known as Small Business Saturday nationwide.
According to a 2020 Small Business Consumer Insights Survey, estimated spending at independent retailers and restaurants has reached nearly $20 billion dollars. The survey also found nearly all shoppers recognized the importance of shopping small and 85 percent encouraged people to shop small.
Helena residents took to the Downtown Walking Mall for all their holiday gift needs on Small Business Saturday.
The Helena Area Chamber of Commerce has 44 registered local businesses that specialize in retail, so there is something for every one sold by small businesses.
Toward the Lewis & Clark Library, a 26-year-old toy shop, Lasso The Moon, offers toys for all the young ones. "You know that people come down and actually shop in a store where they can feel things and see things and pick things up and have fun," said Amy Barrett, owner of Lasso The Moon.
For Barrett, Small Business Saturday means the chance for customers to make a difference in the community. "If people spend their money locally so much more money stays in the community than if you shop it even big box stores, but especially if you shop online, none of the money stays in the community and, it really makes a difference," said Barrett.
Many residents were eager to support small businesses.
"You know what I love about Small Business Saturday is Helena is such a warm and welcoming place, and it's a way to give back to the small business owners," said Sherri Downing.
The walking mall was buzzing with residents looking for holiday gifts, and some had been supporting local businesses for years.
"Well, I grew up in Helena, so I'm supporting all the local businesses that have been here for me all these years," said Marti Pierce.
Plus, there was free hot cocoa and coffee from Keller Williams realtor agents offering some warmth on the crisp winter day.
"We are so excited about Small Business Saturday. We hope a lot of people are going to get out and shop local, support local," said Trisha Salerno, a realtor with Keller Williams, her coworker who joined in her sentiments.
"So we're going to give them a nice warm beverage to keep him down here longer and support all these great businesses down here," said Tara Marock.
And you can always find exciting gifts for your loved ones along the Walking Mall.
"Downtown is just chock full of unique gifts you're not going to find online," said Barrett. "The best gifts are down on the mall," said Pierce.