Small businesses in Johnson County and across the country are gearing up for one of their biggest shopping days of the year.

Black Friday’s good deals don’t stop with chains. Most small businesses across the county will have deals all weekend long, starting Friday and ending on Saturday or Sunday, depending on their business hours.

Small Business Saturday is a shopping holiday created by American Express in 2010 to give small businesses a boost during the recession. Now, it is a cherished tradition that promotes shopping small on this day and year-round.

To start the day, local shoppers can attend kick-off celebrations hosted by the Franklin Chamber of Commerce or Restore Old Town Greenwood to receive tote bags stuffed with coupons, free gifts and samples.

Franklin Chamber’s Start Here Open House will take place at its downtown office, 120 E. Jefferson St., Franklin, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. This year marks the 10th year for the event, said Rosie Chambers, executive director.

“We encourage people to start here, meaning start local, start in Franklin,” Chambers said.

Chamber officials will be handing out tote bags and shopper incentives like coupons. The bags will include store information, coupons and swag from local businesses. The tote bags will go fast, and there will likely be a line at the door before 10 a.m., she said.

People come back year after year for a chance at winning Chamber Cash, a coupon for money off a purchase at participating small businesses. The first 100 people to come through the chamber’s doors will get an envelope containing between $10 and $100 in Chamber Cash to spend at participating shops, she said.

New this year are sidewalk stickers denoting which businesses are participating in the event. The stickers, which are around two feet in diameter, will be eye-catching for people shopping downtown, Chambers said.

“Franklin, of course, is very walkable,” she said. “As you’re walking down the streets … you’ll look down the street and the sidewalks and you’ll see where your next stop will be.”

Among the businesses taking part in Small Business Saturday in Franklin are Eclectic Jade, Toodleydoo Toys and Wild Geese Bookshop, Chambers said.

“It’s a pretty good mix, and I think you will be able to find a gift for everybody on your list,” she said.

The Franklin kick-off event will also have refreshments, including coffee, donuts and other treats, she said.

Restore Old Town Greenwood’s Small Business Saturday kick-off will take place at Take Root Country Store, 202 N. Madison Avenue, Greenwood, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

They will have 50 tote bags to give away on a first-come-first-serve basis with items that represent businesses in the community. Like in years past, Restore Old Town Greenwood’s board has put in $500 worth of Old Town Dollars valued at $5 to $35. The dollars can be redeemed for money off purchases made at participating businesses, said Darcy Miles, event organizer.

There is often a line for the bags, so they expect the bags will go quickly, and shoppers are advised to come early for a chance at the coupons, Miles said.

“Everybody really likes to get in line for those totes,” she said. “Everybody wants that $35 one, that’s the most that’s in there.”

Businesses accepting the dollars include Brick & Mortar, Board & Brush Creative Studio, Cafe Euclid, Coffeehouse Five, Take Root Country Store and Vino Villa, Miles said.

“People can come out and shop, support everybody, eat lunch and have a good time,” she said.

Local retailers in Bargersville, Edinburgh and other small towns in Johnson County will participate in the big day, too, though there aren’t planned events in those communities.

Miles said it’s sad to look back over the last few years and see how businesses where Restore Old Town Greenwood previously hosted its kickoffs are now gone. This is why it is important to support small businesses, she said.

“We support their dream of owning and being a successful small business owner,” Miles said. “Without them, our town would be pretty dull and boring,” she said.

Small businesses are the backbone of a community, which is why it’s important for residents to support them when they can, both Chambers and Miles said. They keep cities alive and growing.

“They’re kind of like the heart of the community,” Miles said.

Many of the owners of these businesses are friends and neighbors. For Franklin, small businesses are what makes the city special, Chambers said.

“They are what makes Franklin a day destination, and we need to support them not only on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but all year long,” she said.

This is especially true in light of the last several years with the pandemic and future struggles that are coming with inflation and the economic climate, she said.

“It’s always, every year, feels very important to support these small businesses,” Chambers said. “That includes restaurants and shops and service industries, that includes everyone who is local, and just the people who make up your community.”