The Christmas shopping season has officially begun, and small businesses in Halifax and South Boston are busy preparing for shoppers on “Small Business Saturday.”

Now in its 11th year, Small Business Saturday is a nationwide event held the Saturday after Thanksgiving with the purpose of encouraging holiday shoppers to support locally owned businesses instead of big-box retailers.

“There is something to be said about the quality of service you receive when you patron a small business. You are greeted with owners you know and trust when you walk in the door, “ said Mitzi McCormick, president and CEO of the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce, in a Small Business Saturday news release sent to The Gazetteon Tuesday. “We are fortunate to have such diversity in our small business community. They are all working together and supporting one another.”

McCormick pointed out that supporting local small businesses helps the community as a whole. According to the chamber news release, for every dollar spent at a small business in the United States, about 67 cents stays in the local community. The release also states that since Small Business Saturday began in 2010, consumers have reported spending a total of $103 billion on all Small Business Saturdays combined.

The Halifax County Chamber of Commerce, Destination Downtown South Boston, town of South Boston, town of Halifax and Halifax Village Association all are encouraging holiday shoppers to support local businesses by shopping small on Saturday. The town of Halifax is placing bright yellow “shop small” signs along the sides of the road throughout town and in storefront windows in the hopes of catching the eye of motorists and pedestrians who will make their way into the Main Street shops.

“All of our mom-and-pop businesses need the support this year now more than ever,” said Denise Barksdale, Halifax assistant town manager and Halifax Farmer’s Market coordinator. “We want everyone to realize that during this time, we need to continue to shop local all season, not just Saturday. A lot of our businesses are really struggling right now due to COVID.”

Barksdale encourages Small Business Saturday shoppers to enjoy a full day of holiday shopping in the town of Halifax, eating at the local restaurants and checking out the vendors’ offerings at the farmer’s market.

“The Packhouse will be serving breakfast. Ginger Hamlett (restaurant manager) always serves breakfast on Small Business Saturday,” Barksdale shared. “The farmer’s market will be open holiday hours Saturday, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. The vendors will offer holiday giveaways and discounts.”

Barksdale added Viny’s Italian Restaurant, a new restaurant that is housed in the Halifax Marketplace along with the Halifax Farmer’s Market, will be open for business Saturday.

Based on the crowd of shoppers she saw at Sunday’s Downtown South Boston Christmas Open House, Tamyra Vest, executive director of Destination Downtown South Boston, expects Small Business Saturday to be a success this year.

“Sunday was great, it was definitely a good shopping crowd,” Vest offered. “I saw that people are liking to shop small, and I got the feel that people wanted the normalcy and the tradition of holiday shopping.”

Vest said she believes shoppers are choosing to support small local businesses right now because they know those businesses are struggling in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they do not want to see them close their doors.

Along with having the support of holiday shoppers this season, the small businesses also have the support of the chamber. McCormick said the chamber is “proud is support our small businesses,” which comprise 75% of their membership.

“Small businesses provide jobs, pay local taxes, support our local charities, sponsor youth sport teams, and so much more,” McCormick commented, in the news release.

Adding to the fun of the Small Business Saturday shopping experience in Halifax County this year, the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce is running a contest on social media. To enter the contest, post selfies and stories of your shopping experience at local businesses on social media using #ShopSmallHCCC, #ShopSmallHali and #ShopSmallSoBo. The winner will receive a $25 chamber check.

Check out the deals and discounts offered by local businesses on Small Business Saturday at www.halifaxchamber.net/ShopLocal.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.