FARGO-As Black Friday survivors rest up and regain their strength, some consumers will turn away from the shopping malls today and look to arts and crafts operations.
Area artisans and boutique retailers are embracing Small Business Saturday as not only a chance for significant sales, but also an opportunity to make a name-and a living-for themselves.
The APT Holiday Art Market is the newest player in the seasonal sales game. It opens today with the intention of leaving an impression on area arts supporters.
"It's about creating an immersive holiday art experience," says Dayna Del Val, president of the Arts Partnership, a Fargo-based nonprofit that promotes and helps support the area's creative community. "It's not just coming to shop for art. It's coming to shop, eat, drink and make. It's a full sensory experience, all about the arts."
The Holiday Art Market, open Saturdays and Thursdays into January, is held at APT, the organization's creative incubator at 225 4th Ave N, Fargo. While the market bazaar will be open for five weeks, no two days will feature the same lineup of creative types. Today features caroling by FM Choral Artists from 10:30 to 11 a.m., coffee from Stumbeanos, food from Nancy Olson and art from Midwest Mud, White Moth Studio, Erika with a K Design, Jeff Knight, and more who will open up their studios.
Each week also includes a new "winter wonderland" installation by local event production group Livewire.
"It will be like being inside a snow globe," Del Val says.
The Art Market continues the APT mission of getting people to think more about arts in the community, she says. And Small Business Saturday is a prime day to get people to think not only about art but also artists living in the community.
"Every independent artist is a small business. They're all paying taxes, filing paperwork, moving product, just like any big box store, just on a small scale," Del Val says. "Rather than going to one shop and meet one artist, you'll get to meet 20 artists."
Ashley Morken of Unglued, the downtown Fargo shop that sells handmade objects, agrees. She urges the dozens of local artisans she displays to have informational tags on their work so would-be customers can look them up.
"It is definitely huge for us. It's truly the biggest day of the year," she says. "It is the biggest, craziest encouragement that our community wants us here and that they support us. ... Small Business Saturday is that burst of energy and support from the community and you remember why you're doing everything you're doing with the amazing people stopping by."
Employees at Unglued's neighbor, Zandbroz Variety, share the enthusiasm about the day.
"Small Business Saturday has been huge for us. It's one of our favorite days of the year," says Josie Danz, manager of the family-owned store. She said they'll serve coffee and sweets from Sandy's Donuts just down the block in the morning.
"It's a chance to see some of our favorite customers and interact with our community," she says. "When you shop local more of those dollars go back into your community because small businesses are more likely to promote other small businesses and spend money in the community."
That's the way Carol Seefeldt sees it. For three years she's been opening up her home studio on Small Business Saturday to show off her creative bent wire art. Without a high-visibility shop or much of a marketing budget, getting people to stop in helps spread her business name, Wired Up! Creative Wire Design.
"It helps. It's getting the word out there that I'm here," she says from her Moorhead studio at 808 36th St S, Moorhead.
It also helps others. Seefeldt has a program called The Outcome, in which patrons get to pick a
Charitable category to which the artist will donate part of her sales.
"With every purchase, the buyer enables us to brighten someone's day," Seefeldt says.
"Shopping small and shopping local are important because small business are what define Fargo-Moorhead," Danz says. "I like to think of the small businesses downtown as the heartbeat of our community, the pulse of our city. Downtown acts as our front porch because that's where we take our family and friends. Without small businesses we'd be left with basically Anywhere U.S.A."