Choose your holiday shopping experience:

  • Rise before the sun, bundle up grumpy, turkey-stuffed family members, and stand in line outside a big box store on Black Friday where there are limited quantities of “block buster” deals that come with the risk of getting trampled when the doors open; or
  • Start your day having brunch, picking up a hand-crafted warm beverage to accompany you on a stroll through independently owned downtown businesses where a friendly, not frenzied, atmosphere greets you as you discover unique gifts on Small Business Saturday.

I know what I prefer. Small Business Saturday, and “shopping small,” has become part of my holiday tradition. Every year, I look forward to the genuine welcomes I receive when I walk through the doors of an indie business, the leisurely lunches with my shopping buddies, and the cool merchandise I find. This makes buying holiday gifts feel like a special experience and not like a chore.  

Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance welcomes you to our historic shopping district on Small Business Saturday (Nov. 26), before the Holiday Parade & Tree Lighting (Dec. 2), during our Downtown for the Holidays event (Dec. 3), and any other day when you are shopping. We have 34 shops downtown that range from recreational gear to fine jewelry to homemade dog biscuits to gourmet food and drink for humans. And, we have 40+ restaurants and coffee shops waiting to round out your day out, too.

Need more reasons? 

  1. Black Friday deals are deceptive, according to Newsweek. It reported that chains only have limited quantities of flashy items and their deals are lower-quality versions of popular products. Savvy shoppers know the best prices can be found during strategic times throughout the year (e.g., need a TV? Try Super Bowl weekend). 
  2.  Buying local is an investment in your own community. When you spend $100 at local, independent businesses, $68 dollars gets returned to Harrisonburg. When we spend $100 at national businesses, only $43 gets returned to the city. When you buy anything online, $0 gets returned. We’re investing in our schools, roads, and other services we use daily with every local purchase.
  3.  Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. According to Forbes, there are 28 million small businesses, which account for 54% of all U.S. sales. Small businesses accounted for 65% of all net new jobs in the last 17 years, too. 
  4. Independent businesses buy local, too! They use local designers, printers, accountants, lawyers, etc. Each purchase of a national corporation is coordinated by its headquarters.
  5. Independent businesses support nonprofits like HDR, other local charities, and our schools through financial and in-kind donations. Who do you think sponsors all of our awesome downtown events?

What?! You need more incentives to shop local for the holidays?

  1. Shop downtown between now and Nov. 27 and enter to win one of three gift baskets featuring gift certificates and merchandise from several downtown businesses! View the baskets and how to win online
  2. Spend $25 or more at a downtown retail store on December 3rd, and enter to win a $250 downtown gift certificate. Entry forms can be found at participating stores on that day. 
  3. Download the MyHuterra app for your phone and play the “Holidays on Main” game. From now until Dec. 31st, choose HDR as your favorite organization, “check into” shops in downtown Harrisonburg and any other Virginia Main Street communities (like Staunton, Culpeper, and others) and automatically be entered to win a gift basket with $500 in merchandise and a night in a hotel!  

Enjoy spreading some love to your favorite small businesses this holiday season! 

Andrea Dono

Written by Andrea Dono. Andrea is Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance's Executive Director. When Andrea isn’t downtown, she spends as much of her free time as possible either “Main Streeting” – exploring other historic downtowns – or getting outdoors. She is working on her Virginia Master Naturalist Certification with the intention of leading exciting conservation projects and volunteering in the Shenandoah Valley.