ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – Black Friday brought shoppers out for the big deals at major retailers, but local business leaders and store owners want people to shop small on Saturday.

A recent post-Black Friday tradition, Small Business Saturday encourages people to shop at locally-owned businesses.

Dianna Cantler, interim executive director of the Johnson City Development Authority, said Small Business Saturday can give some businesses such a large sales boost, it can mean the difference between them staying afloat or closing.

“Supporting these businesses now really makes a difference in them staying open through the really difficult months to come,” Cantler said.

Business leaders in Elizabethton and Johnson City planned events to bring more people to small businesses in their downtown areas.

In Elizabethton, the city will open the seasonal ice rink in Covered Bridge Park on Saturday morning. Additionally, there will be free horse-drawn carriage rides and a showing of The Polar Express at 4:30 p.m.

Rita Russell, owner of Simple Blessings General Store, said Elizabethton’s downtown activities on Saturday show a unified effort to support small businesses.

“It’s just been wonderful to see everybody come together for this opportunity, for people to have a wonderful, old-fashioned Christmas downtown,” Russell said.

In Johnson City, Cantler said business leaders and the city strategically placed the downtown Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Small Business Saturday to encourage people to spend the day downtown.

“Come in, make a day of it, come shop downtown, have dinner and then stay for the Christmas tree lighting,” Cantler said.

The Christmas tree lighting ceremony takes place Saturday in Founders Park at 7 p.m.

Elizabethton small business owners say this Saturday is their largest of the year. Tracie Mosley, owner of FiveOneEight, said Small Business Saturday created a buzz around downtown, making it her busiest day of the year.

“It brings new people into town. It introduces new people into my store, so that always helps,” Mosley said. “The last five years, this specific day has been my best day of the entire year.”

Mosley said going out on Small Business Saturday is a great way to find unique gifts for your Christmas shopping.

On Black Friday, small businesses still saw heavy traffic. Cantler said Black Friday is becoming a busier day for small businesses.

“If people are out shopping on Black Friday, why not take advantage of it?” Cantler said. “Some of our retailers have done some incentives to bring people into their stores.”

Last year’s Small Business Saturday saw increased online shopping and at-store pick-ups due to the pandemic. This year, business owners expect a return to the Small Business Saturdays of years past.