Filled to the brim with turkey and dressing, thousands of shoppers across the nation crowd outside the doors of big box stores to get lowest-of-the-low prices on a (very) limited number of hot holiday gifts. And, come Monday, thousands more will ignore their jobs to score even more deals online. Black Friday, and, more recently, Cyber Monday have become household names for two of the biggest shopping days of the year. But, how many of us have heard of Small Business Saturday? Get your wallet ready, it's this weekend!
Started in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday is exactly what its name suggests _ a day to forgo shopping at the chain stores and support your entrepreneurial neighbors instead. The credit card company proclaimed last year's initiative a success, and is promoting the second annual Small Business Saturday by offering a $25 credit on American Express cards used at local merchants on Nov. 26. Of course, certain terms and conditions apply, so I recommend you visit www.smallbusinesssaturday.com for details before heading out.
This area is rich with local stores of all types, from sporting and hardware to clothing and housewares. You can find something for everyone right in our own backyard; however, most of these items are not necessarily made in the area. Let's go a step further and not only shop local, but buy items crafted by local residents.
The Cooperstown Art Association is holding its Holiday Member show through Dec. 23. And, if you happen to read this early enough, their 10th Annual Adorn-A-Door Wreath Festival from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Visit www.cooperstownart.com for gallery hours.
The Earlville Opera House in Chenango County is hosting a Holiday Art Show & Sale on select dates through Dec. 18. It also runs an Artisan's Gift Shop year round, with 75 percent of the profits going back to the artist. Additionally, the Earlville Opera House hosts many great concerts and theatrical events during the year. Visit www.earlvilleoperahouse.com for details.
For the contemporary art lover, visit 61 Main Gallery in picturesque Andes. The gallery houses new works by George Ballantine, Larry Breakstone, Jim Chatelain, John Egner, James Walton Fox, Kate Knapp, Chuck Levey, Jeffrey Milstein, Lynn Preston, Sandra Swan, John Urbain and Ben Wohlberg. Call (845) 676-4020 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
The Artisans' Guild, a shop on Main Street in Oneonta, is run by the artists themselves, with 89 percent of the sale price going back to the artist. According to its website, www.theartisansguildoneonta.com, "The aim of The Guild is to provide high-quality gifts and everyday items at affordable prices, while adding a little beauty to the lives of all who shop there, and helping the local economy." I think this quote embodies the essence of Small Business Saturday.
Many of the organizations listed above offer gift certificates and/or memberships, which make truly wonderful and thoughtful gifts. Certificates are especially handy when it comes to gifting the performing arts, as you cannot guarantee a specific date will work with the recipient's schedule.
Also, consider giving a voucher for an art or craft class. There are certain media I have wanted to explore for a long time, but have never gotten around to signing up for a session.
Receiving a class as a gift means I just have to pick the schedule that works for me and show up (hint, hint).
This is just a small sampling of the artistry that saturates our region. There are far too many local galleries, studios and performing arts organizations to list in this column, but it is a starting place.
It is also important to note that I cannot guarantee shopping at the businesses listed above would make you eligible for the $25 American Express credit. But, in the end, Small Business Saturday is about so much more than the monetary incentive. It's about connecting with our friends, neighbors and area craftsmen; local business owners will surely notice and appreciate your support. So, drive past the superstores with miles-long parking lots, avoid the panicked rush of shoppers and visit a small business!
June Dzialo is a member of ArtsOtsego, the alliance of Otsego County arts organizations, and marketing and public relations manager for Glimmerglass Opera. Column ideas and questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. 'Around The Arts' columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/aroundthearts.