BY MICHAEL WALTON
TRAVERSE CITY — American Express card holders can save money on Saturday by shopping at nearly 100 local small businesses.
The credit card company offers members a $25 discount on their next bill if they spend the same amount in a single transaction at an eligible business during Small Business Saturday.
The event is an effort to help independently owned businesses compete on the biggest shopping weekend of the year.
Downtown Traverse City's Roth Shirt Company participated in Small Business Saturday last year and saw a noticeable uptick in sales.
"People would come in and mention it. Our sales were up because of that," store owner Ed Roth said.
Roth's business will participate again this year, but he expects strong sales all weekend, regardless of the American Express promotion.
"Being in Traverse City is as good a place as any ... because people here embrace local like crazy," Roth said.
Darla Stites, owner of What To Wear!, said Small Business Saturday will benefit her shop, too. But Stites said she doesn't necessarily need help competing with chain stores' Black Friday hysteria.
Many customers of her boutique and other small businesses don't want to fight through the day-after-Thanksgiving mayhem.
"I've never paid attention to what goes on at the big box stores. I just focus on my business," she said. "I don't even like the words 'Black Friday', to be honest."
Traverse City resident Jessie Hall said she supports any initiative that benefits locally owned stores.
"My son used to work at Kilwin's, so I know what a struggle it is to get business," Hall said. "I wish all of our downtown businesses well."
American Express card holders must enroll on the company's website by Saturday at 10 a.m. to qualify for the discount. The site also contains a full list of participating Traverse City shops, bars and restaurants.