Blue and white balloons will decorate the doorways of hundreds of small businesses across the Fredericksburg region Saturday.

That’s the sign that they’re taking part in the ninth annual Small Business Saturday, which is designed to encourage people to support mom-and-pop shops and small chains on the day after Black Friday.

American Express kicked off the concept in 2010 to help small businesses struggling during the recession by encouraging people to shop locally. Since then, the federal government has made Small Business Saturday official, and spending on that day has now reached a reported estimate of $103 billion, according to surveys the financial services company commissioned.

That’s important, because approximately 67 cents of every dollar spent at a small U.S. business stays in its local community, said Ann Glave, Fredericksburg VA Main Street’s executive director. She said downtown businesses saw a 10 percent to 50 percent increase last year over their normal Saturday sales, even though it was pouring rain for much of the day.

Rain is in the forecast again this year, but that won’t stop Team Red, White and Blue from distributing blue and white balloons bearing the Shop Small logo early Saturday morning. In addition, hot chocolate, pastries and Shop Small reusable bags will be available at 9 a.m. at the Visitor Center, 706 Caroline St., and at 9:30 a.m. in front of The Galleria, 907 Caroline St.

Dozens of downtown shops will offer special deals Saturday, and some will offer them Sunday as well. Whittingham and The Kitchen At Whittingham, for example, will open at 8 a.m. Saturday, offer holiday cooking demonstrations throughout the day and a 10 percent discount on all merchandise except alcohol until 10 p.m.

Other deals include a drawing that 810 Weekend Gallery will hold at 8 p.m. for two $50 certificates for a work by Beverley Coates on display at that gallery or Brush Strokes Gallery. LibertyTown Arts Workshop will give the first 25 customers a free 2019 LibertyTown ornament and LibertyTown holiday tote. The totes will be on sale for $5 the rest of the day, and LibertyTown will be serving refreshments and offering a 10 percent discount on purchases.

Information about additional specials being offered by participating businesses is available at Fredericksburg VA Main Street’s Fredericksburg Downtown Facebook page.

Shoppers who bring receipts to the Visitor Center for purchases Saturday that total at least $100 will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Fredericksburg Downtown gift card.

Avery Ballet, a Fredericksburg dance studio, will use Small Business Saturday to promote its upcoming production of “Santa’s Workshop.” Dancers dressed as dolls from the show will pose as live mannequins on several corners of Caroline Street from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. If a child touches their tutu, they’ll change their pose, and an elf will accompany them to answer questions, said owner Lisa Avery.

“Santa’s Workshop” will be held at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13–14 at Fredericksburg Academy, and tickets will be available at the Visitor Center and Avery Balley. They’re $18 for adults, $15 for college students and seniors and $12 for children ages 12 and under. Proceeds will be used to offer a scholarship at the dance studio to a Head Start student.

A number of other Small Business Saturday events will be held in the area. The Greater Fredericksburg Black Chamber of Commerce, for example, will hold a Small Business Saturday Expo to showcase area businesses owned by African Americans from noon to 4 p.m. at the Fredericksburg Hospitality House and Conference Center at 2801 Plank Road.

Culpeper Renaissance will host Small Business Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in downtown Culpeper, and nine Stafford County-area businesses will hold a free, 10th annual Small Business Saturday Shopping and Networking Event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s Porter Branch, 2001 Parkway Blvd.

A number of retailers and restaurants in Caroline, King George, Stafford, Spotsylvania and Westmoreland counties will participate in the day as well. They can be located online at americanexpress.com/en-US/maps?country=US.

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Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407

cjett@freelancestar.com

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