Lodi shoppers flock downtown for Small Business Saturday

Steve Downer, co-owner and operator of the Wagon & Carriage Rides, waits as they get ready for their next ride during Small Business Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018.

First comes Thanksgiving, a day of delicious meals, time with family or good friends (or both!) and plenty of television, whether it’s the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or some choice football games.

Then comes Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. If the excitement of wading into crowds in search of the perfect deal sounds like your jam, big-box stores will be offering plenty of doorbusters in Lodi.

If that sounds awful, don’t worry — you have options. Small Business Saturday encourages shoppers to think local. Cyber Monday lets you find great Christmas gift deals from the comfort of your couch, complete with pajamas (at least, if you’re lucky enough to have the day off).

And if you feel all that spending isn’t what the holiday season is about, Giving Tuesday is a great way to support local nonprofits.

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday was created by American Express in 2010, as a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The credit card corporation partnered with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Boston leaders and retail groups to encourage shoppers to consider keeping some of their dollars in their local communities.

American Express advertised the event on Facebook and national radio and television networks, and it quickly caught hold. Soon, the event had been adopted by business groups and chambers of commerce around the United States — and Lodi is no exception.

Every year, Downtown Lodi merchants get together to host a special day of Christmas shopping on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Along with sales and specials — and often hot drinks or small bites — they sponsor a few events to put everyone in the holiday spirit.

The Downtown Business Alliance is sponsoring the annual Christmas tree that stands proud at Post Office Plaza. The tree will be delivered on Friday, Nov. 29; decorating and a tree lighting will take place over the weekend.

On Saturday, Nov. 30, Boy Scouts from Troop 399 will be hanging wreaths throughout Downtown.

The Downtown merchants will also sponsor carriage rides on Nov. 30, as well as on Saturdays throughout December, and several, including the Dermal Clinic, Pret, Fashion Safari, New & Again Consignment Furniture Gallery, the Purple House and more, will have special discounts throughout the day.

But it’s not just Downtown shops that will be celebrating Small Business Saturday. Several other local businesses are joining the fun as well:

  • Just Baby: A boutique offering unique, often handmade clothing for babies and toddlers. 207 W. Oak St., Lodi; 209-200-9909; www.justbaby.us
  • Sheila’s Country Rose Florist: Find plenty of seasonal arrangements and gifts. 835 C St., Galt; 209-745-6867; www.sheilascountryroseflorist.com
  • Lodi Office Furniture & Mattress: This retailer sells home office furniture and mattresses. 623 E. Oak St., Lodi; 209-400-7544
  • Mike’s Automotive: Find winter car care and brake specials, along with other deals. 420 W. Lodi Ave., Lodi; 209-334-4610; www.mikesautomotivelodi.com

Small Business Saturday has spread beyond Thanksgiving, too. In many places, it’s held once a month or even every Saturday, to spotlight local merchants. Companies and their fans use the hashtag #SmallBusinessSaturday on social media to spread the word and promote local businesses.

In 2013, it spread to the United Kingdom.

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday 2019 will be Dec. 2, the first Monday after Black Friday.

Last year, Americans spent $7.9 billion on Cyber Monday, according to Adobe Analytics. Revenues topped any other shopping day of the year, Business Insider reported.

Cyber Monday was coined by Ellen Davis and Scott Silverman of the National Retail Federation and Shop.org in 2005, in a move to promote online shopping. It was intended to help smaller and online-only retailers who felt they were being shut out of Black Friday sales, according to Business Insider.

But many large-scale retailers saw it as an opportunity to offer a continuation of their Black Friday deals into the weekend, and to drop sales prices even further. Now, the holiday is celebrated by businesses all over the U.S., from Amazon to local retailers.

Cyber Monday is a good time to look for discounts from favorite stores. Many advertise their planned specials on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

To find local businesses that are participating, check their websites or social media pages.

Sites like eBay, Etsy, and Shopify give online boutiques and small businesses the chance to take part in the cyber shopping day, if they choose, and customers get another chance to find local businesses that offer unique gifts for the holiday season. Plenty of local artisans and retailers have Etsy and eBay stores.

Cyber Monday also allows smaller retail chains and small companies to offer their customers more meaningful discounts, because they can anticipate a higher volume of traffic on their site.

Most people shop Cyber Monday for the price drops in technology, according to data collected by the National Retail Federation.

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday — another hashtag holiday, stylized #GivingTuesday — was founded in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y in New York and the United Nations Foundation to offer an alternative to the materialism and consumerism that springs up after Thanksgiving. People were encouraged to donate to their favorite causes.

Founded by Mashable, Skype, Cisco and several other organizations, the holiday caught on quickly. In 2012, at least $10.1 million was raised through companies using the Blackbaud software; it’s unclear if more was raised on other platforms.

Last year, a total of more than $400 million was raised across various platforms for charitable causes.

“We tried it for the first time last year,” Lodi House Executive Director Shelby Young said.

The nonprofit — which helps local women in crisis find shelter, stability and job training — joined at the last minute. Volunteers at the thrift store asked shoppers if they wanted to add a donation to their purchases, Young said.

This year, they decided to try a more organized campaign, with the goal of raising $5,000. With the San Joaquin County Community Foundation providing them with access to social media tools created by Network for Good, the nonprofit can now accept donations via text — send the message “GIVE” to 916-299-9678 — or online at www.lodihouse.org.

“It allows us to build funding pages and communicate better with our donors,” Young said.

Lodi House staff have also created a campaign to show where donors’ gifts are going. For example, $50 funds a family dinner at Lodi House, while $100 provides healthy snacks for two children for a month. A gift of $1,000 “adopts” a mother and her children for two weeks.

“I know that people like to give to something specifically, and I think sometimes having something specific to give to helps people understand how much an organization needs,” Young said.

People don’t always know how much it costs Lodi House to provide food, pay for electricity or internet services, or provide other support for its clients.

Lodi House isn’t expecting someone to pay the entire $1,000 to sponsor a family, Young said. Instead, she hopes donors will see how their small gifts add up to tangible goals.

“Everybody giving a little bit makes a big difference,” she said.

Lodi House is hoping that Giving Tuesday will be successful, but they’re not limiting this campaign to a single day, Young added. It kicked off on Nov. 19, and will run until Dec. 3.

“We’re excited to see how it all comes together,” she said.

Lodi House is one of several local organizations asking for donations on Giving Tuesday. Anyone with a few dollars to spare can spread them to the following nonprofits — or contact them to find out how to donate time instead:

  • California FFA Foundation: Providing an agricultural education to high school and college students. P.O. Box 186, Galt, CA 95632; 209-744-1969; www.calaged.org
  • Coastal Arabians & Equine Rescue: A Lodi-based horse rescue focused on Arabian and part-Arabian horses. P.O. Box 958, Lockeford, CA 95237; 650-743-1997; www.caerinc.org
  • Galt Area Historical Society: Preserving local history in Galt, Arno, Elliott, Colony, Herald, Liberty, Thornton and beyond. P.O. Box 782, Galt, CA 95632; 209-327-1098; www.galthistory.com
  • Hope Initiative: Movement to eradicate sex trafficking in the Central Valley and worldwide. P.O. Box 531, Lodi, CA 95241; 209-747-5510; www.hopeinit.org
  • Hope for Horses: Giving horses in need and from abusive backgrounds a safe place and a new, purposeful life. 10576 Arno Road, Galt, CA 95632; 916-591-2481; www.hope4horses.com
  • Lodi Boys & Girls Club: Providing youth programs and study space to Lodi teens and children since 1963. 275 E. Poplar St., Lodi, CA 95240; 209-334-2697; www.bgclodi.com
  • Lodi House: Helping women end the cycle of poverty and build stability for themselves and their children. 801 S. Washington St., Lodi, CA 95240; 209-334-6346; www.lodihouse.org
  • LOEL Senior Center: A community gathering site that offers social programs, a nutritious lunch and more to local seniors. 105 S. Washington St., Lodi, CA 95240; 209-369-1591; www.loelcenter.net
  • PALS: People Assisting Lodi Shelter works to house homeless pets in Lodi. 1040 W. Kettleman Lane Suite 379, Lodi, CA 95240; 209-224-0354; www.palslodi.org
  • Performing Animal Welfare Society: A humane sanctuary for animals who have been victims of the exotic and performing animal trade. 11435 Simmerhorn Road, Galt, CA 95632; 916-712-4357; www.pawsweb.org

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