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Posted on Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

A day after Black Friday, national Small Business Saturday takes the spotlight in Ann Arbor

By Angela Smith

Business owners in Ann Arbor should expect a lot of local shopping today. American Express has joined forces with 130 small business groups for the second year to celebrate what they are calling “Small Business Saturday.”

More than 540 Ann Arbor area businesses are listed as participants on Small Business Saturday's Facebook page in an effort to encourage shoppers to buy local.

Much of the Black Friday attention goes to big box retailers like Target, Best Buy, and Walmart. But today’s focus is on supporting local economies.


Cindy Hollander spruces up a holiday table display at Hollander's in Kerrytown in 2009.

File photo |

Hans Masing, owner of Ann Arbor store Tree Town Toys, is thrilled that American Express is turning the spotlight onto small businesses. “We appreciate the support and the fact that they are encouraging people to shop local," Masing said.

Masing says that he expects the store to be busy and that people are far more aware of the event than they were last year. But busy is what he expects every week for the rest of 2011.

“Half of our sales for the year happen in the last six weeks," he said.

Tree Town Toys doesn't offer one-day sales or hot-item promotion but does offer a rewards program and free gift wrap. He says the focus at Tree Town Toys will be no different than usual.

“We’ll continue to do what we do… which is selling toys that focus on the fundamentals of play," he said.

Many of Ann Arbor’s downtown small businesses focus on making the shopping experience special at the end of the year.

Downtown Home & Garden owner Mark Hodesh said: “Happiness is a big part of my business. From my wonderful and friendly staff, to the delightful goods offered at the store, to the celebratory food carts courtyard, we are spreading happiness.”

Hodesh is temporarily transforming Mark's Carts, the outdoor food cart courtyard he launched this year, into a venue for selling holiday greenery and trees, calling it Mark’s Supreme Happiness Christmas Trees. The courtyard will feature chestnuts roasting over open fire on Friday and Saturday nights beginning this weekend.

Hollander’s, a three-story specialty paper and bookbinding shop, has been a growing local business for 25 years.

Tom and Cindy Hollander explain why supporting local businesses is so important: “If people didn't support the local, small businesses, then retail shopping would become increasingly corporate, sterile, and lack the individuality and uniqueness that only small businesses display.”

The Hollanders feel that much of their success is attributed to their location in Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown district. “Kerrytown management has a great vision for this unique part of Ann Arbor and has done a great job of bringing together a diverse mix of retail and food shops. They are fully supportive and appreciate the individualism of the tenants. The store owners at Kerrytown are very connected and committed to their businesses and customers.”

Though Hollander’s is not a participant in the Small Business Saturday movement, it's a member of Ann Arbor's Think Local First and will be participating in the local Midnight Madness Sale and KindleFest which features sales, food, music and festivities until midnight Dec. 2.

Angela Smith is a freelance contributor and retail writer for



Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 3:12 p.m.

So Midnight Madness at Cherry Republic meant something different to a criminal? I heard they were robbed Friday....and news on this?

Monica R-W

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 6:21 a.m.

Hope it was a very successful day for these small local businesses in this article and county wide!

L. C. Burgundy

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 9:42 p.m.

They want me to go downtown today? Now? Uh, *no*.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 1:50 a.m.

Lol !!!

Hans Masing

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 5:03 p.m.

A minor clarification - the correct URL for Tree Town Toys is: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Thanks!


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

What's wrong with paying for parking?


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 1:48 a.m.

I agree with the access part -- I want to be able to park. But I don't mind paying the small amount that Ann Arbor charges to park, as that money goes right back into making a better town. All the gripes about paying for parking are bewildering to me. Have y'all ever been to New York?

Hans Masing

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

Stores that do not have easy access to parking have a difficult time drawing customers. It's hard enough to get a customer in to your store - to be faced with limited or difficult parking only makes it harder.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

I should mention that it would be nice if during Shop Local Week (this upcoming week) that features Midnight Madness (friday Dec 2nd) the DDA would either feature FREE PARKING or at least REDUCED parking for it.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 8:01 p.m.

Come to Downtown Ypsilanti. Free parking. Great Shops. Plus many of the shops will be open later than usual on December 2nd.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

Doesn't National Small Business Day oppose the President's Economic Policy?


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

@cook: that's just it. what business are we supporting aside from retail jobs? why do local retailers feel the need to import junk from china &amp; co.? if a local butcher can source locally, a bakery can source locally, why can't the standard retailers at least source american made? or at the lowest at least not made in asian or middle eastern sweatshops?


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 4:47 a.m.

Hans, thank you for the very clear explanation. Our Congress is pitiful.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 1:49 a.m.

Hans, I remember when this bill or law or whatever it is was pending.... I remember signing petitions and writing congresspeople in support of small toy makers. I didn't realize that it had passed! What a complete tragedy. Ugh.

Hans Masing

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 10:31 p.m.

Jack - There is no such thing as 'chinese toys', per se. There are toys manufactured in China (and other countries) by large corporations. These include Hasbro, Mattel, and Fisher Price, for example. These large companies make toys in batches of hundreds of thousands of units, and the regulations require that each 'batch' include testing for compliance with the safety protocols. A complete test and safety certification costs between $1500 and $3000, and is required before the product can be sold in the United States to children under 13 years of age. This makes sense and sounds great, but for small manufacturers it is a death knell. A 'batch' might only be 10, 20, or 100 of an item. Suddenly the cost of certification makes production of the product impossibly expensive, so they don't make it or sell it - even though it is perfectly safe. Due to very strong lobbying on the part of the large toy manufacturers, they also have the ability to certify 'in house' if they are over a certain volume, thereby making it very cost effective for them. It's a double standard, and an impossible standard. As a result, we've lost a lot of product that our customers loved, was made both in the United States and Europe, and was 100% perfectly safe. The small manufacturers have not been the safety issue - it's the large manufacturers who are beholden to cutting every single penny in production and care more about shareholder equity than about innovation and quality. Those of us in the toy industry who see the hypocrisy and counter-intuitive nature of the 'safety' regulations in the CPSA and the CPSIA are fighting it, however. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> I've testified to the state senate, served on the board of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, and campaigned extensively for sanity in our toy safety legislation. It's a tough road, but we'll see if we can get it done.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 6:42 p.m.

Mr. Masing: Are you then saying that Chinese toys are self-regulated? And come into the United States with basically no quaoity control? And that toys made by quality small companies have to hire outside agencies to inspect their production? Where do the government agencies come in? Why do smaller manufacturers have to use outside companies?

Hans Masing

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 5:02 p.m.

As a local toy store, it is getting harder and harder - if not impossible - to find affordable product made in the United States. The CPSIA (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> has killed most of our small business American-made products due to the overwhelming cost of testing for compliance - even if the product is made 100% out of completely safe products like wood, linseed oil, bee's wax and silk. Many of our treasured smaller European lines also stopped selling in to the United States due to the cost of being complaint with both the European Union safety requirements, and the United States requirements which are just different enough to require separate certificate. Innovation in the toy industry has also been seriously damaged due to the knee-jerk regulations that have ultimately only served to increase the presence of chinese-made plastic crap and served to increase the market share of the giant toy manufacturers that were the cause of the safety recalls in 2007 to start with. And get this - the legislation as enacted allows these same companies to self-monitor their production, unlike the smaller manufacturers that have to use external companies to monitor their product safety, resulting in even higher costs to the small companies.

Lac Court Orilles

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 11:32 a.m.

Great idea to bring awareness to local businesses instead of the big box ones that sell primarily Chinese merchandise. It's too bad that Governor Snyder and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville are clueless about promoting and supporting local Michigan businesses.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

Could you explain your last sentence to me? Specifically? Thanks.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 1:42 p.m.

Wherever the merchandise comes from, the owner and employees are local and the money will recirculate locally.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 11:58 a.m.

I think if you check labels most of the merchandise in the local stores is made in China.