Shop local: Small Business Saturday spotlights the core financial engine of Key Biscayne business

Small business makes up approximately 90% of the retail shops and dining areas on Key Biscayne.

It's no wonder Small Business Saturday could be considered the Super Bowl Sunday of shopping on the island, although a loyal customer base keeps Village shop owners on a steady level throughout the year.

"Normally what we do is encourage customers to shop locally on that day, and we will be promoting that through our social media," said Christine Wing, director of Marketing & Member Services for the Key Biscayne Chamber of Commerce.

In most cases, store hours will not be expanded on Nov. 26, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, on the island.

"It's a normal business day," Wing said, although shoppers are often more abundant as the holiday season gets under way.

At The Island Shop in the Key Biscayne Shopping Center on Crandon Boulevard, for example, the store was packed with customers at lunchtime this past Friday.

Beatrice Arismendi, who with her sister, Anna Maria, has operated the store for 11 of its 30 years, is just grateful for the year-round traffic the shop generates, where one can shop for everything from baby clothes to housewares.

"We are very lucky and blessed that all year round we have customers," Beatrice said. "So, it doesn't make too much of a difference (on Small Business Saturday), but we are appreciative (of all of our customers)."

At the Golden Hog gourmet market in the Harbor Place Shopping Center, business always seems to be buzzing.

"Thank God, we have good, loyal customers," said Jorge Gonzalez, who has co-owned the corner hot spot (formerly known as the Key Biscayne Farmers Market) with his wife, Mariana, for 12 years.

Being open on Thanksgiving Day to provide catering services sort of quells the Small Business Saturday rush at the Golden Hog.

"Thanksgiving is a very good day for us; probably more people buy on that day," said Gonzalez, who only closes the store on Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

He likes the idea of enticing customers to help small business owners, but year round, of course.

"The way we focus our small business is to locally serve the community, and that creates a lot of loyalty," Gonzalez said. "People like these types of businesses instead of shopping at the bigger corporations, which like to take the money but don't invest it back into the community."

Small Business Saturday, founded by American Express, is a day dedicated to supporting the diverse range of local businesses that create jobs, help boost the economy and enhance neighborhoods around the country.

According to American Express, reported spending among U.S. consumers who shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on the 12th edition of Small Business Saturday last year hit a record high with an estimated $23.3 billion.

Mary Tague, owner of Toy Town in The Square on Crandon Boulevard, where Legos, Barbies and Hot Wheels still are among the hot-selling items, said she hasn't seen that surge in recent years.

"The first year or two, American Express marketed it with perks (rebates), but then, three or four years later, they didn't didn't provide the incentives," she said. "Quite honestly, I got very excited about it at the beginning; it was great that they wanted to support small businesses. But I'm a small business, and I wouldn't have known it (Small Business Saturday) still exists."

The American Express endeavor was introduced to compete with the "Big Box" stores, which largely dominates Black Friday.

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) leader Isabella Casillas Guzman, the voice for the country's 33 million small businesses, is calling on Americans to “Shop Small” throughout this holiday season and, especially, on Nov. 26.

She cited a stabilizing economy, a record 8.5 million new small businesses opening under the Biden-Harris administration, and economic relief programs to support those new business owners.

If the stars line up, Nov. 26 could be a profitable one for small businesses across America, including Toy Town, which on April 1 reached its 25th-year milestone.

"I wish it was," Tague said. "They better hurry up (promoting it)."


To learn more about Small Business Saturday, visit www.sba.gov/saturday or click here.

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