Small Business Saturday in Bismarck

Every year after Black Friday, companies recognize shopping small for the betterment of communities.


Kaden Boyer, Writer

National Small Business Saturday is observed on the last Saturday of November every year, always after Black Friday. Originally launched by American Express as a campaign to help generate business with smaller shops, it has grown into a bigger event that has a large impact on the economy. 

The 2018 Small Business Economic Impact Study concluded that generally, 67 cents for every dollar spent on a local business ends up staying within the local economy. Now, multiple Presidential administrations and state governments officially endorse the holiday. Data released by American Express shows that American consumers spent an “estimated $19.8 billion” on Small Business Saturday.

“Without shopping locally, local businesses will literally close,” Owner of Down Home General Store in Bismarck, Brenda Ternes said. “The big box stores have tons and tons of customers and they probably are doing fine throughout COVID. As you wander downtown, you’ll see businesses are no more because people didn’t shop there.” 

Dollars spent within the community, stay in the community. That is why it is important to keep dollars relative, so business and traffic can keep flowing. Business owners and managers especially understand how significant each dollar can be. 

 “When shopping locally, you not only help support small businesses but also the community. When you shop local [in Bismarck], these are the businesses that give back to the community through donations, various fundraisers, and events,” Owner of Stella’s in Bismarck, D’Arcie Malsam said. “The Bismarck Cancer Center does several events throughout the year and rely on small businesses to help them with fundraising. If your school asked a box store for a gift for a silent auction, more than likely, they’d tell you to go through the corporate office, but a small business donates several times a month to various events. We give back to those who support us.”

One of the main goals of Small Business Saturday is for consumers to better understand the benefits of shopping small. Relationships with customers are one of the biggest advantages that small businesses have over corporations.

“Last year, the biggest treat [of National Small Business Saturday] of having this store was to see the number of people who came through the door. It was phenomenal, it was awesome, and I think a lot of it had to do with a lot of peoples’ mindsets that ‘we should shop small,’” Ternes said. “We’re hoping that that will be the same again. We’ll be doing a doorbuster, we’ll be having free gifts with purchase that sort of thing. We always try to get our customers in the door, but also to show them that we have value in our store, and we have good customer service in our store. It’s a family affair. My dogs come with me every day, my grandchildren come with me when they’re not in school. So it is a family thing, and we like to treat our customers like family. Every customer gets offered a cup of coffee when they come in.”

Local businesses can much more easily and conveniently tailor to specific needs and build reliable relationships with customers. At Stella’s, this value holds true to their business model.

“[At Stella’s,] we repurpose furniture and other decor pieces that become a one-of-a-kind piece. We help customers mix things they already have with some new pieces to update their style without having to start completely over,” Malsam said. “We also design floral and faux green plant arrangements for customers. We get to know our customers’ personal style to help them with their design style. We become friends with our customers because we appreciate all they’ve helped us accomplish. [On Small Business Saturday] we will be doing in-store promotions along with some good giveaways to thank our customers for such strong support.”

 Small businesses have their own distinctive identity that are based off of the surrounding community. The culture around a local setting inspires business ideas to fully take off. 

“This sounds silly, but the name of our store is Down Home General Store, and if you listen to country music, you know that Alabama has a song called Down Home, which is where I got the name for the store,” Ternes said. “Because I wanted people to feel that way when they come into this store. The biggest compliment that I received was somebody came in and said ‘I feel like I just came home. I feel like I’m shopping in Medora,’ which for me is a big compliment because that’s how I feel when I go to Medora. I just have a sense of peace and calmness, and I want people to have that when they come in here that there’s no pressure. There’s lots of fun stuff to look through, they get to have local products that they can enjoy and be proud of the fact that they were made locally.” 

Corporations tend to value cost-effective ways of mass-producing over the quality of products. Advantages that local shops have are the local products that are sold and the people that run them. Products can be specifically unique and exclusive to the area they are sold in.

“We’re a family store,” Ternes said. “The clothing boutique [within the main store] is actually my daughter’s, so we have literally a little bit of everything. You can find something to shop for yourself here if you really wanted to, your mom can, your grandma can. We have pet supplies, we have local artists’ pieces, soaps, lotions, there’s wool dryer balls that come from New Salem sheep. We have a lot of local talent that’s showcased here but it’s not all local, we hope that it’s things that you can use that not everybody else has. We like to be a little unique.”

Find @stellasnorthdakota and @downhomegeneralstore on Facebook.