By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
As the Thanksgiving weekend draws near, Oxford businesses and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) are getting ready for a record-breaking Small Business Saturday.
“It’s really nice that … every single year we see the community come out for this specific day,” DDA Executive Director Kelly Westbrook said. “With Black Friday the day before [people are] kind of in that shopping mood, so it bodes well for our little town.”
Westbrook says Small Business Saturday — falling this year on Nov. 27 — is one of the busiest business days for the shops in Oxford. 2021 has already been one of the busiest years for downtown businesses, pointing toward a Saturday in the black.
“A couple of businesses have come back and said that it was the largest Witches Night they’ve had or the largest Scarecrow Festival they’ve had,” Westbrook said. “I’m hoping and praying that this is the largest Small Business Saturday that we ever have for our community.”
The DDA’s findings are reflected in the experiences of individual businesses like the downtown toy store Funky Monkey Toys.
“It’s been a strong year; probably one of our best in our 11 years of business,” Funky Monkey owner Ann Jones said. “We just had another event two weeks ago, probably our second biggest day all year, and that’s Neighborhood Toy Store Day … [this year was] our biggest ever, so we think Shop Small Saturday will be our biggest ever.”
While getting inventory has been a challenge, Jones says the Funky Monkey team has worked to get the goods in well before the shopping season.
“Our stock is really good,” Jones said. “Our shelves are full. Our basement, which is where all of our backstock is, is overflowing. The challenge is going to be that if something sells out, that turnaround time just isn’t going to be there as fast as before.”
Aside from having a secure inventory, Jones says local businesses like Funky Monkey can provide unrivaled service for customers.
“A grandparent comes in and says ‘I need something for an eight-year-old boy,’ any one of our staff can say ‘What do they like, what don’t they like, let me show you something that is specifically tailored for them,’” Jones said. “[This versus] walking down the toy aisles at Meijer or Target — good luck finding help or getting someone to customize a gift.”
Getting the word out for Small Business Saturday does not just fall on the shops and restaurants themselves. The DDA is distributing materials for stores and shoppers alike and is promoting businesses and the day itself.
“Genisys Credit Union gave a grant to Oakland County this year to provide the different towns throughout Oakland County with extra bags and extra posters and signage and little cards that businesses can hand out,” Westbrook said.
Shoppers can swing by Centennial Park on the day to receive a tote bag, a map of downtown and some coffee — some much-needed heat with the forecasted high of 32 degrees.
Outside of the DDA, the Oxford Chamber of Commerce is holding a “Sleigh the Day” contest over the Thanksgiving weekend. If anyone who shops in Oxford and finds a hidden sleigh in the downtown area between Nov. 26 and Dec. 5, they can take a picture of the sleigh and their receipt and text it to the chamber at 248-628-0410 for a chance to win a one-night stay at Stag’s Leap Farm Bed & Breakfast. $200 and three $100 Visa gift cards are up for the second and third place prize winners, respectively.
Small Business Saturday began in 2010 with financial services company American Express pushing the idea of shopping small through TV, print and internet advertising. Since then the shopping holiday has become a fixture on the Christmas shopping calendar wedged between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
By Dean Vaglia