Small Business Saturday Supports Local Businesses – Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD: Most Americans are aware of Black Friday, but people may not be as aware of Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express in 2010 to encourage consumers to shop local. Small Business Saturday is always the Saturday after Thanksgiving and this year falls on November 26.

Supporting small businesses is as important as ever as things return to normal this year following the COVID-19 outbreak. Many local businesses struggled during the pandemic with the limitations in place. Brainerd, Baxter, and the surrounding small towns are full of small, local businesses offering a variety of products and gift ideas for the holiday season.

Nisswa is one example, a town full of small shops and local businesses. Zaiser’s is one of those businesses that depends on local support. The second generation store has been around for 75 years and is filled with a wide variety of wacky items.

When Biff Ulm, the owner of Zaiser’s, was a boy, Nisswa used to close around MEA weekend at the end of October. Now, Nisswa is in operation year-round, and that’s because customers want a different shopping experience, Ulm said.

“I just called a customer and they said they’re trying to buy everything locally, like they’re not online,” Ulm said. “They said they will buy from bigger stores, but for this shopping season, they won’t try to order anything online.”

Small Business Saturday buttons are in a pile.

Small Business Saturday is designed to remind shoppers of the impact of small business and attract customers. These buttons were previously displayed at the Landsburg Landscape Nursery north of Brainerd.

Renee Richardson/Brainerd office.

Ulm said he tries to get a lot of products from Minnesota companies at Zaiser’s.

“We have a lot of Minnesota businesses and we have a lot of local businesses (in the store),” Ulm said. “If we are selling it, they are making money. We are making money, we spend our money locally. It’s just kind of a full circular pattern that brings success to our area.”

Other local businesses also have sales or promotions to encourage people to participate in the holidays. Cuyuna Outfitters is one of those businesses.

I just called a customer and they told me they are trying to buy everything locally, like they are not online.

Biff Ulm, owner of Zaiser

Sarah Katzenberger, owner of Cuyuna Outfitters, hopes to attract customers during the off-season for her business. Cuyuna Outfitters is an outdoor and sporting goods company that specializes in water activity rentals in the area. People can rent kayaks, paddleboards, and inflatable docks in their regular season. However, the store also has a retail aspect, selling merchandise, clothing, equipment, and more.

“We are located in Crosby, so it helps that the bike paths are open again,” Katzenberger said. “It seems like a lot of people are visiting family for the holidays and I think our goal is to keep retail in Crosby. So instead of having to go across town and Target or wherever, there are options to shop right here in town.”

To attract customers, as many retailers are doing this season, Cuyuna Outfitters is offering incentives of 20% off their retail sales over the weekend and any customer who spends more than $100 will be entered into a drawing.

It’s the first time they’ve opened during this time of year, but Katzenberger expects customers to come into the store during slower business times.

“You’re supporting local families who own businesses and by buying things for other people, you’re putting food on those families’ tables and keeping the people who live here employed,” Katzenberger said. “So, I feel like your money goes further when you shop local.”

The Brainerd center will also participate in Hometown Holiday Happenings beginning Saturday, November 26 and continuing through December 17. Hometown Holiday Happenings will be packed with events and will give customers the chance to win 10 packs of $100 gift cards if they fill out a shopping passport with 10 different purchases of $10 or more at different downtown businesses.

Events related to Hometown Holiday Happenings include:

  • Holiday Sale at Elysium Hair Studio from 9am to 3pm on Saturday.
  • Receive 30% off your most expensive item (consignment items not included) at Visit Brainerd from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturdays.
  • Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop at Knotty Pine Bakery from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday.
  • Make and take a mini felt snowman ornament class at The Crossing Arts Alliance from 10 am to 3:30 pm on Saturday.
  • Beginner’s Watercolor Workshop with Lucy LeMay at The Crossing Arts Alliance at 10am Tuesday.
  • Monkey painting workshop with Lisa Ackerman at The Crossing Arts Alliance at 5pm Tuesday.
  • Teen Study Wednesday! alcohol ink decorations at The Crossing Arts Alliance at 3:30 pm on Wednesday.
  • Christmas Open House at Visit Brainerd Wednesday.
  • Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop at Knotty Pine Bakery from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday.
  • Snow Angel Collage Workshop with Lisa Ackerman at The Crossing Arts Alliance at 5pm on December 6th.
  • Second Saturday Creativity Kit Giveaway at The Crossing Arts Alliance from 10am to 12pm on December 10th.
  • Holiday Sparkle Homemade Soap Making at Purple Fern Bath Company from 10 am to 2 pm on December 10.
  • Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop at Knotty Pine Bakery from 10 am to 2 pm on December 17.
  • Christmas Open House at The Olde Open Window from 10 am to 4 pm on December 17.
  • Artistic Artist Networking at Ya Sure Kombucha hosted by The Crossing Arts Alliance at 5pm on December 20th.

SARA GUYMON, Brainerd Dispatch, staff writer, can be reached at 218-855-5851 or

[email protected]

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