"Small Business Saturday" is November 26 and for many around the country, it’s the start of holiday shopping. An estimated 95 million people ventured out to shop at small businesses in 2015. While ads in our mailboxes remind us of sales at national retailers, there is nothing quite like walking into a homey, quaint store that offers local and unique products. It’s the place where you find the gift that fits someone you know perfectly, and where you feel good about investing in people who have already invested themselves in a community. It’s risky opening and running a small business – but on this day dedicated to small businesses, we offer praise and thanks to the owners for doing what they love and for sharing their craft with others.
Downtown Iowa City boasts 90% independent businesses of 335 total – and over 70 of them are owned by University of Iowa alumni. (Talk about keeping it local.) Doors will be open wide November 26, welcoming people in from near and far to highlight their products and services. The city will offer free parking on the street and in parking ramps to encourage folks to spend time exploring. Holiday activities will also kick off, beginning at 11:30 – Santa will have kiddos lined up for a visit at FilmScene, families will hop on a carriage for a free horse-drawn carriage ride, and elves will be uncovered throughout the district during Downtown’s Hunt for the Elves. If you have a chance to venture beyond downtown, make a stop in Coralville’s Iowa River Landing also.
Local support doesn’t stop after Small Business Saturday! Downtown Days of Giving has returned this holiday season. Local businesses step up to partner with the cause to raise $5,000 for United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties, with a matching donation by University of Iowa Community Credit Union. This year, $100 Candy Grams, raffle tickets for downtown gift baskets, and direct donations contribute to the goal. So when you’re in town, consider being part of the cause!