The Importance of Small Business Saturday

By: Angelica Frey

It first started with Black Friday. You know, hoards of people lining up in the darkness of night for a TV or discounted appliance. Then came Cyber Monday, a way to shine a light on e-commerce sites and to eliminate the rush (or even fist fights) that accompany Black Friday deals. Somewhere in the middle though, small businesses, makers and creators were also seeking their spot amid the holiday shopping rush. Then voila - Small Business Saturday appeared. 

Let's not be naive and think that Small Business Saturday is a weapon against capitalism: it was started in 2010 by an initiative promoted by none other than American Express. Plus, most can serenely admit that Black Friday is great for purchasing TVs, electronics, or any kitchen appliances (especially since the pandemic had us all thinking we could be contestants on Great British Bake Off). 

While I love a good bargain as much as anyone else, there's a time and place for utilizing each deal the day presents. When considering your never-ending gift list, think about which funds you'd like to set aside to denote for holiday gifting from small businesses this Small Business Saturday. 

It's More Than A Business

In 2009, Andrej Urem started with six candles in his Brooklyn studio. Working with the concept of not only architecture - but a deconstruction of what is innately solid - led to imaginative, inner illuminated candles that exist as individual art forms. Sure, you can go to any store and pick up a candle to take home, but knowing the entrepreneurship that laid the groundwork for what is now a one-of-a-kind design makes the purchase all the more satisfying.

Speaking of stories, artist Elizabeth Schafer turned to narratives of women's empowerment to inspire her colorful yarn art series, The Butterflies. Minerva, Patria, and Maria Teresa Mirabal were all brave political activists during Rafael Trujillo's dictatorship of the Dominican Republic. Minerva and her two sisters were pioneers in the resistance and formed the 14th of June movement. Unfortunately, they were killed in 1960. The Butterflies (as they were called) became martyrs to the cause and led to abroad alliances that assisted in toppling Trujillo's reign in 1961.

These are but two examples out of hundreds that display the background stories, or backdrops, of how small businesses are shaped around a narrative of creation and/or greater inspiration.

When you're shopping or gifting small, you're also acquiring an innate message in each purchase. 

A Personal Touch 

Small businesses offer a curated selection, an edit, if you will, of products that align with their ethos and/or aesthetics. This means that if you are shopping small for one particular thing, chances are the business will also carry other creators, artisans, or artists who make similar items.

Much like Schafer's artistic backstories, DenXYZ has sought vendor relationships that align with some key branding points including - sustainably sourced, female focused and small businesses that embody core ethics and even a touch of rarity. 

By shopping small this coming Saturday, not only are you more likely to acquire items you will treasure for many years to come, but you will also become more knowledgeable about the scene in which the small business operates. Even if you're new to design, you can shop curated bundles that spotlight the above vendor relationships and do the design guesswork for you.

All in all, just like DenXYZ is 'design that gives a damn,' Small Business Saturday is 'shopping that gives a damn.' And honestly, it's pretty sexy and very 2021 to give a damn.

Some Final Thoughts

If you're looking for a large purchase, of course Black Friday is going to be a great starting point. It has the masses flocking for a reason, and even this Black Friday, DenXYZ will have their own specials running through Cyber Monday!

Yet, when you're shopping small, be it here or elsewhere, you're supporting more than a faceless entity or corporation, you're engaging in the stories of creators, the movements that shaped generations and the dreams that became tangible businesses. 

Which is pretty cool, and a bit philosophical when you really think about it.

I'll end with my own personal story:

A few days after my last birthday (an event that usually makes my self-loathing skyrocket) I was walking around in a neighborhood of my hometown when I spotted a dainty cluster ring consisting of a series of rose-cut diamonds in a daisy-like setting. It was gracing the window of a local jeweler that had been a neighborhood fixture since 1918.

Despite my all-around shyness, I entered the premises channeling my inner Gollum and inquired about the item. Not only was this exquisite 1850s ring 70% cheaper than what I expected, but, given that my birthday had taken place only a few days prior, the store owner knocked an extra 10% off. I gave him my debit card without the slightest hesitation.

This is but one of my many fortunate interactions with a small business. 

This year, I encourage you, reader, to do the same. Luckily, you landed on a one-stop shop for niche, high-end home-decor items and objets d’art.


By Angelica Frey: Angelica Frey’s aesthetic combines classic decadence with maximalist prints and a bold color palette. For the time being, though, her Brooklyn apartment is mostly white with yellow, turquoise, and pink accents. You can read her work in New York Magazine, The Guardian, WSJ, and ArtNews. She’s always looking for more designers and creatives to talk to. Twitter: @angelica_frey Ig: @angelica_frey_writes