Black Friday and Small Business Saturday couldn't be more different for being just a day apart. One brings big deals and even bigger lines. The other? A full night's sleep.
For a newly formed day of shopping, Small Business Saturday is gaining traction in Oshkosh and Fond du Lac, as many small retailers hope to use the day to introduce themselves to customers.
Groups are offering deals and attractions Saturday to get people in the doors. In Fond du Lac, there's a drawing for $500 in downtown gift certificates and Clydesdale-powered carriage rides all day. In Oshkosh, a holiday "passport" promises deals from around downtown.
Kim Ostwald, manager at Oshkosh's Paper Tiger Book Store, 408 N. Main St., said Small Business Saturday usually signals the start of the holiday shopping season for her store, which sells books, magazines, games and more.
"We are usually fairly busy starting that Saturday, right up until Christmas eve," Ostwald said.
Each year before Christmas, non-fiction and history books sell better, as many buy for dads and grandfathers, Ostwald said. There's a new John Grisham novel out now and a book profiling Packers great Brett Favre.
The book store closed on Thanksgiving but reopened on Black Friday. The shop's bigger boost comes on Saturday, though, and rests on traffic to nearby shops in downtown Oshkosh.
Small Business Saturday was devised in 2009 and launched a year later by credit card company American Express as a way to boost spending at shops mired by the recession.
The day of shopping has grown quickly since. On Small Business Saturday 2015, shoppers spent $16.2 billion at small retailers, up from $5.5 billion just three years before. About 95 million shoppers and 1.3 million retailers participated last year. Since 2011, Congress has designated a National Small Business Saturday yearly.
Small Business Saturday in Wisconsin has helped introduce downtown to shoppers, said Errin Welty, WEDC's downtown development account manager.
From a recently completed study of Fond du Lac's downtown, Welty found shoppers visited about 10 stores from Small Business Saturday through December, many making a couple stops in each trip.
"It's certainly the opposite of the Black Friday shopping experience," Welty said. "The more you can have an excuse to go to a store without feeling guilty is a good thing."
At Fond du Lac's Carousel Vintage, 46 N. Main St., owners Tony and Katie Volpe are readying their shop for Small Business Saturday — and what they hope will be a steady churn of shoppers. It's the couple's first such event; they opened the store that sells antiques, records, CDs, DVDs and other goods in April.
Tony Volpe said he's confident that this year's event will bring traffic downtown. They did good business during Fond du Lac's Fondue Fest in September, despite heavy wind and rain that day.