Retailers in the ABQ region gear up for Small Business Saturday

Shoppers who head into Stitchology next Saturday will find something more than bolts of fabric, spools of thread, and sewing kits.

Melisa Hart, owner of North Valley sewing and fabric store, hosts something special for Small Business Saturday each year.

This year she will be offering hot cider and cookies outside of the store; Inside, customers can learn how to sew their Christmas stocking pattern or make fabric ornaments to take home.

“I like trying to give them a little incentive to get in or do something fun and special,” Hart said.

Celebrated the day after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express in 2010 and co-sponsored by the US Small Business Association a year later. A survey by American Express estimates that consumers plan to spend $23.3 billion on Small Business Saturday at independent retailers and restaurants in 2021. Over the past 12 years, the company has found that consumers spent $163 billion that day.

Hart said Small Business Saturday is one of her busiest days of the year. Last year, Hart’s sales were 280% higher than an average Saturday.

Participation in the program has exploded in the past year. In November 2020, just 20 companies applied to the NM Department of Taxation and Revenue for tax relief totaling approximately $10,000 — half the turnout in inaugural 2018, when 40 companies applied.

However, as of November 2021, 258 companies statewide filed applications for a total tax saving of approximately $186,000.

“It really makes a difference working together to spread the word,” said Stephanie Schardin Clarke, New Mexico Secretary of Taxes and Treasury.

The Department of Taxes and Revenue, Department of Economic Development and New Mexico MainStreet have attempted to raise awareness and plan events around the tax holidays.

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The New Mexico state legislature instituted an annual Small Business Saturday tax holiday in 2018. Businesses based in New Mexico with fewer than 10 employees can apply for a gross receipts tax exemption for the day and pass the savings on to their customers.

New Mexico Secretary of Taxes and Treasury Stephanie Schardin Clarke said small purchases help New Mexico’s economy.

“It keeps the employment base here,” Schardin Clarke said. “More of the money we spend when we shop locally goes back into the local economy than when we shop in big department stores.”

Though several other states have year-round tax holidays, New Mexico is the only state with a Saturday small business tax holiday, according to the Tax Foundation. In August, New Mexico also offers a back-to-school tax holiday.

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Hart recently celebrated the 11th anniversary of her business at 2502 Rio Grande NW. Though Small Business Saturday was rolling out nationwide around the time she opened Stitchology, she said it wasn’t until 2018, when the state instituted tax holidays, that more customers took notice of the day.

Color Wheel Toys owner Keri Piehl said the holiday also helps customers discover local businesses in Albuquerque.

“It definitely only affects the bottom line at first,” Piehl said. “But I think it also reminds me to patronize these companies year-round…so that’s helpful for cheering and encouraging the small business community.”

Former teacher Piehl ran Color Wheel Toys as a seasonal pop-up store for five years before moving into a permanent location in Rio Rancho earlier this year at 6855 4th NW. Small Business Saturday falls right in the middle of the main toy season, with Christmas just a few weeks later.

She said she prepares for the day by making sure the shelves are stocked.

The Small Business Saturday brings an increase in sales, said Piehl. But the majority of her customers, she said, are choosing not to shop because of the tax exemption, but to support local businesses. Some are even “pleasantly surprised” by the tax break.

Schardin Clarke said this year the tax holiday could help customers deal with higher prices.

“Especially at a time when families are struggling with inflation, it’s great to have these tax breaks available,” Schardin Clarke said. “But beyond that, I think it’s a great way for customers to get acquainted with local businesses that they may not have shopped with before.”

Carolyn Richter opened her low-waste refill store, People & Planet Refill, on Earth Day this year at 3223 Silver SE. Customers can bring their own containers and fill them with laundry detergent, shampoo, dish soap and more to reduce their packaging waste.

This will be Richter’s first Small Business Saturday as a business owner. She said before she opened her shop in Nob Hill, she wasn’t very aware of the tax holiday.

“More people, more customers should know about it,” Richter said. “Because if they can go out and still get a deal, you know, full money they’d get, but the customer still gets a discount, then everyone wins, right?”

Richter said she felt pressure to offer sales for small businesses on Saturday, but chose not to offer discounts.

“Even though I’ve had a sale… it’s not like I can compete with big department stores anyway. If Target has a Black Friday sale, I can’t compete with that,” Richter said. “So my thought is if you come out on Small Business Saturday, you’re supporting businesses because you care about them.”

Richter said that many small business owners have told her Small Business Saturday is a “make or break” day. With increased vacation spending, small business owners can pad their budgets for slower months in the new year. The increased spending on days like Small Business Saturday can help business owners prepare for slower months.

“What I’ve been told by a lot of other people … is that they really, really, really hope they have a very good last quarter of the year,” Richter said. “Because they may not have the income they need to cover regular expenses in the new year.”

The holiday starts at 00:01 on Saturday 26 November and ends at midnight on the same day.

“If you haven’t found your favorite local store yet, now is a good time to find your favorite in your community,” said Schardin Clarke.

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