MANATEE -- The rush of Black Friday may be over, but shoppers can still enjoy the deals that small business around the corner have to offer on Saturday.
Small Business Saturday, an initiative of the U.S. Small Business Association, has gained traction as a national day of recognition for neighborhood shops. And various neighborhoods, such as Bridge Street and downtown Bradenton are making a day of the event, luring people with discounts and celebrations.
For the past three years, customers in Bernadette Hudak's boutique Chelsie Danz in downtown Bradenton have crowded the fitting rooms and even Hudak's office to try on her collection of dresses, jackets and shoes she offers at up to 50 percent off for Small Business Saturday.
"I'm kind of known as the bling bling store," Hudak said.
Hudak said the sales throughout the Jennings Arcade plaza on Old Main Street in Bradenton are an effort to get more people interested in shopping downtown rather than at the outlet mall or department stores, even though they can't offer the same blow-out deals as national retailers.
Chelsie Danz has been in business for three years now. Hudak, who has lived in Manatee County for 44 years, said the boutique is her dream come true. She named her shop after her daughters.
Shoppers who arrive at Jennings Arcade at 8 a.m. will get a 50 percent discount at stores throughout the arcade.
Hudak said the discounts work in half hour increments. Customers who arrive at 8:30
will receive a 40 percent discount, customers who arrive at 9 a.m. will receive a 30 percent discount and there will be a 20 percent discount on all items throughout the whole day.
"People are looking for the deal of the century, but it is a lot for small businesses," Hudak said.
Retailers in Bradenton Beach are preparing for their own shop local event with the first Lighting of Bridge Street set for Saturday night.
Bill Herlihy, the vice president of the Bridge Street Merchants Association and owner of Island Time Bar and Grill said the event will bring local businesses together.
"It will be like Main Street Disney, or the store fronts in Nantucket," Herlihy said.
Herlihy said the first two weeks of December are the slowest for Island businesses.
Briana Nerstrom of Art Attack on Bridge Street, said that foot traffic picks up during that time, but not necessarily sales.
"Restaurants and hotels do well, but a lot of people are cutting out unnecessary expenditures," Nerstrom said.
Herlihy said he hopes the "winter wonderland" event will attract locals to Bridge Street.
"We have a diverse group of stores," Herlihy said. "It's a diverse place to be."
Matt and Debbie Myers, owners of Bridge Street Interiors, have been open for nearly 12 years. They said all the Bridge Street business owners have had a hand in Saturday's event.
Matt helped erect the 20-foot Douglas fir that will be the centerpiece of the lighting, and Debbie spent two days decorating the tree, complete with an angel that stands four and a half feet tall.
Bridge Street Interiors will be offering 40 percent off all framed artwork on Saturday.
Nerstrom said this is the time of the year the island starts to see an influx of seasonal residents, many of whom are repeat shoppers.
"We also get people from Sarasota and St. Pete who are looking to get away and look someplace different," Nerstrom said.
Island stores participating
Nerstrom said Art Attack has shifted over the years from souvenirs with "Anna Maria" splashed across them to bags and sundresses that locals and nearby residents also like to buy. For the past two years, Art Attack has participated in the American Express Small Business Saturday event, which gives customers a kickback when they spend at least $10 at a qualifying local business.
Bridge Street stores are not the only ones on the island participating. Bella by the Sea on Pine Avenue is giving customers a 15 percent discount all day.
"We don't get hit like the big stores, but we have people starting to come out," store owner Jo-Ann Lefner said.
Popular items at Bella by the Sea include jewelry and "Sock It to Me" socks, with sarcastic and witty phrases on them.
Lefner said her store is also known for vegan handbags hand bath products as well as soaps that are hand-cut in the store.
Stores offering merchandise for recreation and entertainment are also participating.
Village Bikes on Lakewood Ranch Main Street will continue its black Friday sale of 10 percent all black bikes through Sunday.
Manatee Scooters is extending its Black Friday sale through Saturday, offering a 10 percent discount on any new scooter.
Music and Magic in Bradenton's Village of the Arts will also be participating.
Owner Glenda Tietjen said they are offering discounts of 10 percent to 40 percent, depending on the merchandise.
Music and Magic carries guitars, band instruments, orchestra instruments and ukuleles and accordions.
Myers is also hoping that the Dec. 14 boat parade will also attract shoppers to local stores, on Bridge street and around Manatee County.
"We buy local to keep these businesses open," he said. "Everyone has something cool to offer."
Erica Earl, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.