Bay Area cities kick off 'Small Business Saturday'

SAN JOSE, Calif.

At Small Business Saturday, store owners had high hopes. It's the second year for the national event, which highlights the independent business owner who also needs this holiday shopping season to be a good one.

"Most of the neighborhood stores have taken a big hit because of the economy," said Al Ribaya of Al's Attire. "Having a day like this really promotes the small business."

Event organizers credit Small Business Saturday for boosting sales by 28 percent last year. This year, event organizers were confident that sales would be even better, mostly because new communities joined the effort.

"The time, the attention, the incentives and the care they give are worth a lot of money to members of the community," said organizer Barbara Kasoff.

Shopping with major retailers is still the route to go for many. Black Friday sales increased from last year, which means people are spending again, but according to consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow, shoppers still want their dollar to stretch as far as possible.

"Small businesses can't offer the price points that large companies can," said Yarrow. "So I think, ultimately, consumers are going to lean more toward buying at major retailers because they'll save more money."

Foot traffic was light in the North Beach community. In the Marina District, boutiques offered some savings.

In San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood, many shoppers admitted they're spending less this year while still looking for unique holiday items.

"It's definitely not the mall," said shopper Patience Lutz. "That's what I'm trying to escape this year."

Eighty-nine million people are expected to take part in the small business event. According to a study conducted by American Express, San Francisco ranked second in the country for small business vitality.

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