Small Business Saturday supports local business

Local business owners speak out about how Small Business Saturday can make a big difference for local businesses.

People are seated at a long table making candles.
People make their own candles at the Purple Fern Bath Company candle bar Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, during Hometown Holidays Small Business Saturday in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — Most Americans know about Black Friday, but people may not be as aware of Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express in 2010 in order to encourage consumers to shop locally. Small Business Saturday is always the Saturday following Thanksgiving and this year it falls on Nov. 26.

Supporting small businesses is as important as ever as things return to normal this year, following the outbreak of COVID-19. Many local businesses struggled during the pandemic with the limitations put in place. Brainerd, Baxter and the surrounding small cities are filled with locally owned small businesses that offer a variety of goods and gift ideas for the holiday season.

Nisswa is one example, a city filled with small stores and locally owned businesses. Zaiser’s is one of those businesses that rely on local support. The second-generation store has been around for 75 years and is filled with a large variety of quirky items.

When Biff Ulm, the owner of Zaiser’s, was a child, Nisswa used to close down around MEA weekend at the end of October. Now, Nisswa is in operation year-round and it’s because customers want a different shopping experience, Ulm said.


“I just rang up a customer and they said that they're trying to buy everything locally, like they're not going online,” Ulm said. “They said that they will shop in bigger stores, but for this shopping season, they're not trying to order anything online.”

Small Business Saturday buttons are in a pile.
Small Business Saturday is designed to remind shoppers of the impact of small businesses and attract customers. These buttons were previously displayed at Landsburg Landscape Nursery north of Brainerd.
Renee Richardson/Brainerd Dispatch.

Ulm said he tries to get a lot of Minnesota companies’ products in Zaiser’s.

“We have a lot of Minnesota companies and we've got a lot of local companies (in store),” Ulm said. “If we're selling it, they're making money. We're making money, we spend our money locally. It's just kind of a whole circular pattern that brings success to our area.”

Other local businesses are also having sales or promotions to encourage people to partake in the holiday. Cuyuna Outfitters is one of those businesses.

I just rang up a customer and they said that they're trying to buy everything locally, like they're not going online.
Biff Ulm, Zaiser's owner

Sarah Katzenberger, an owner of Cuyuna Outfitters, hopes to draw in customers during her business's slower season. Cuyuna Outfitters is an outdoor and sporting goods company that specializes in water activity rentals in the area. People can rent kayaks, paddleboards and inflatable docks from them in their regular season. However, the store also has a retail aspect, selling merchandise, clothing, equipment and more.

“We're located in Crosby, so it helps that the bike trails are open again,” Katzenberger said. “It seems like a lot of people are visiting family for the holiday and I think our goal is to keep retail in Crosby. So instead of having to go across town and Target or wherever, there's options to shop right here in town.”

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With new and used equipment, the store is offering specials throughout Memorial Day weekend and into next week.

To attract customers as many retailers are doing this season, Cuyuna Outfitters is offering incentives of 20% off sale on their retail throughout the weekend and any customer who spends over $100 is entered into a drawing.

It’s their first time being open during this time of year, but Katzenberger hopes to get customers inside the store during the slower business times.


“You're supporting local families who own businesses and by buying things for other people, you're putting food on those family's tables and keeping people who live here employed,” Katzenberger said. “So, I feel like your money goes farther when you shop locally.”

Downtown Brainerd is also participating in Hometown Holiday Happenings beginning Saturday, Nov. 26, and continuing through Dec. 17. Hometown Holiday Happenings will be filled with events and gives customers the opportunity to win 10 $100 gift card packages if they fill a shopping passport with 10 different purchases of $10 or more at different downtown businesses.

Things to do

The events involved with Hometown Holiday Happenings include:

  • Holiday blow out sale at Elysium Hair Studio from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. 
  • Receive 30% off your most expensive item (consignment items not included) at Visit Brainerd from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
  • Holiday cookie decorating workshop at Knotty Pine Bakery from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
  • Make and take felted snowman ornament mini class at The Crossing Arts Alliance from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
  • Beginner watercolor workshop with Lucy LeMay at The Crossing Arts Alliance at 10 a.m.  Tuesday.
  • Mono painting workshop with Lisa Ackerman at The Crossing Arts Alliance at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
  • Studio Wednesday Teens! alcohol ink ornaments at The Crossing Arts Alliance at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
  • Holiday open house at Visit Brainerd Wednesday.
  • Holiday cookie decorating workshop at Knotty Pine Bakery from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
  • Snow angel collage workshop with Lisa Ackerman at The Crossing Arts Alliance at 5 p.m. Dec. 6.
  • Second Saturday creativity kit giveaway at The Crossing Arts Alliance from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Dec. 10.
  • Holiday sparkle DIY soap making at Purple Fern Bath Company from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 10.
  • Holiday cookie decorating workshop at Knotty Pine Bakery from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 17.
  • Holiday open house at The Olde Open Window from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 17.
  • Artworking artist networking at Ya Sure Kombucha hosted by The Crossing Arts Alliance at 5 p.m. Dec. 20.

SARA GUYMON, Brainerd Dispatch, staff writer, may be reached at 218-855-5851 or

Sara Guymon is a Post Bulletin business reporter. Guymon grew up in New Ulm, Minnesota. She graduated from New Ulm Public High School and went on to attend college at the University of Minnesota Duluth. While at UMD, Guymon pursued a major in journalism and a double minor in photography and international studies. Prior to coming to the Post Bulletin, she worked as a staff writer for the Brainerd Dispatch. There she covered the City of Baxter and business.
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