Believe it or not, the idea to shop at small, local, independent businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving was actually introduced by financial behemoth American Express.

Five years after the credit card company officially launched Small Business Saturday in 2010, the initiative was cosigned by the U.S. Small Business Administration — and since then it’s been embraced by entrepreneurs across the nation.

The promotion works. People spent more than $17 billion on Small Business Saturday in 2018, marking a record high, according to the SBA. That stellar shopping year brought the total small biz spending to an estimated $103 billion over the past decade.

Some benefits of shopping small are obvious, and others more surprising. Some of the figures AmEx touts:

  • All for one and one for all: $0.67 of every dollar spent locally goes into the local economy.
  • It makes ya feel good: 75% of people said they’d shop small again once they learned of their impact.
  • Building community: An estimated $67 billion spent on the day has gone directly to supporting local artisans, business corridors and communities.

Philly’s a big city with lots of chances to shop small. Here’s a guide to where to start.

Chestnut Hill Small Business Saturday

Germantown Avenue from the 8000 to 8600 blocks

Northwest Philly is magical during the holidays. Check out Chestnut Hill with its stone roads and cottage-styled shops for blocks and blocks of shopping. Also on tap for the day are horse and carriage rides from noon to 3 p.m. (10 W. Evergreen Ave.), Christmas carolers, a Santa sighting and a gingerbread house workshop from 2 to 4 p.m. at Bredenbeck’s Bakery (8126 Germantown Ave.).

Kensington’s Small Business Saturday Holiday Market

New Kensington CDC Garden Center, 1825 Frankford Ave.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

More than two dozen Kensington-area businesses will come together for a holiday shopping bazaar hosted at the New Kensington CDC Garden Center. Head to the center for local gifts like handmade candles, teas and Jawnaments, Philly-themed ornaments.

Fishtown business corridor

Multiple locations in Fishtown
10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

After you’ve had your fill in Kensington, head to nearby Fishtown to peruse participating boutiques, restaurants, food markets and a distillery all offering deals. A few highlights:

  • DanceFit (2423 Frankford Ave), a new boutique dance fitness studio based in Chestnut Hill offering 20 percent off classes
  • DiPinto Guitars (407 E Girard Ave), offering 10 percent off select items
  • Liberty Kitchen (1244 N Front Street), giving out a free slice of tomato pie with purchase of $30 or more

Salvaged furniture and more at Philly Reclaim

Philly Reclaim, 5200 Unruh Ave., Warehouse C
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

When you pick up second hand furniture, reclaimed doors, tiles and tools from Philly Reclaim, you’re doing much more than shopping small and local. You’re also supporting jobs for returning citizens, saving the environment and helping remediate blight. Philadelphia Community Corp., which runs the shop, teaches formerly incarcerated people to take apart abandoned homes and preserve materials to be sold at the Philly Reclaim store. On Small Business Saturday, the store is hosting a round down sale. Everything less than $20 will be sold for $1, everything less than $100 will be sold for $20 and so on.

Shopping and a decoration contest in historic Old City

Multiple locations in Old City

What can be more charming than strolling down quaint alleys adorned with the sparkling lights of businesses participating in a holiday decoration contest? Well, that’s what you’ll get shopping in Old City on Small Biz Saturday. Take advantage of Bella Bridesmaids (30 Bank St.), which will have a sale on dresses, Perfumology (25 N. 3rd St.) taking $15 off their scents, and plenty more.

Indie-Life Small Business Saturday

Trolley Car Station Restaurant, 3940 Baltimore Ave.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Local politicians, live music and a small business panel discussion headline this free shopping event featuring independent businesses from West Philly’s Baltimore Ave. The makers market will be open all day and the “Neighborhood Changes: Indie Challenges” panel begins at 11:30 a.m.

Manayunk Small Business Saturday

Multiple locations in Manayunk

More than 50 small businesses will be open and offering deals for holiday shoppers up in Manayunk. The product offerings are diverse: everything from salon and spa deals to a bookstore, an ice cream shop and a yoga studio have discounts for folks shopping small.

Greensgrow Holiday Bazaar

Greensgrow Farms, 2501 E. Cumberland St.
10 a.m. to 4p.m.

Grab your tree and gifts to go under it at Greensgrow Farms’ two-weekend holiday bazaar. After Thanksgiving, the farm puts away its veggies and other plants and busts out the Pennsylvania-grown firs. Also on tap for the bazaar are art and crafts gifts, jewelry and woodwork.

Made @ Bok Small Business Saturday

BOK Workshop, 821 Dudley St.
Noon to 5 p.m. 

The makers who call the Bok building home will be selling their unique wares all in one place to kick off holiday shopping. Look for handmade ceramics and jewelry from Rider Ceramics, handcrafted Korean-inspired beauty products from Sabbatical Beauty, clothing for sale from Lobo Mau and other locally-made gifts.

Shops on East Passyunk Avenue

Multiple locations on East Passyunk Ave.

South Philly shoppers can find gifts along the East Passyunk Avenue business corridor. Deals include rearrangeable wall gardens from Urban Jungle Philadelphia, 10% off all items at clothing and accessories shop Nicole Rae Steyer, and BOGO lenses and frames at InnerVision Eyewear.

African American Book Expo

Victorian Banquet Hall, 4809 Germantown Ave.
1 to 6 p.m.

Support indie Black authors, illustrators and storytellers at this year’s African American Book Expo in Germantown on Small Business Saturday. Find literary gifts at this free to enter, family-friendly event.

Stay local, go global on North 5th Street

Multiple locations on North 5th St.

North 5th Street, with its melding of Asian, African and Latinx cultures, is a snapshot of Philly at large. Head there for fashion and beauty boutique shopping, interesting foods and baked goods, t-shirt printing and embroidery.

In the holiday spirit at Italian Market

Multiple locations in the Italian Market

The Italian Market dives into the holiday spirit with strolling Christmas carolers and a tree lighting at dusk. Shop specialty food and drink, flowers, crafts, and housewares on Ninth Street and the surrounding blocks.

Layla A. Jones (she/her) was a general assignment reporter for Billy Penn from 2019 to 2021. Her work has helped underserved community organizations, earned free repairs for property owners who sustained...