By Andrew Khouri
2:20 PM PST, November 24, 2012
A day after shoppers surged into malls for Black Friday, local merchants around the country are welcoming them to Small Business Saturday.
The shopping day, invented by American Express in 2010, is a nationwide effort to get customers to support neighborhood boutiques and mom-and-pop shops. Last year about 100 million shoppers visited small businesses on that day.
Local merchants in Los Angeles got into the spirit on Saturday, sandwiched between the marathon shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
In Highland Park, the 4th Quarter Sports Shop offered a free tote bag with $50 in purchases. Its store windows are plastered with signs advertising 25% off all merchandise.
Part-owner Eric Nicolas said the shop was closed on Thanksgiving and on Black Friday but geared up mightily to woo shoppers over the weekend.
"You can't compete with the chain stores," he said. "It's not worth me opening."
But Nicolas is hoping for brisk sales after shoppers are done with the malls, noting that in-store sales jumped 15% to 20% last year on Small Business Saturday.
Down the road on York Boulevard, Pop-Hop Books & Print also offered a free tote bag to those purchasing $50 or more in goods. Shoppers walking in stepped on a mat that read "Welcome to Small Business Saturday."
The independent bookstore redecorated and added more merchandise for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, said Betty Balcomb, a bookshop worker and mother of part-owner Sarah.
The store was open for Black Friday, but Balcomb didn't make a big deal out it.
"We didn't really promote it, because we didn't really want to be part of Black Friday," she said, adding that there were no "fisticuffs" at the store, unlike some mass merchants that saw brawls break out between competing shoppers.
Rebecca and Robb Epifano, who live in the neighborhood, were shopping with their kids, Ezra and Asher. They said they liked the idea of a day dedicated to supporting small businesses.
"Considering we bought into this neighborhood [a year ago], we like to support the neighborhood businesses as well," Robb Epifano said.
The couple bought a painted nutcracker and a book for their sons.
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