By Maria Wyllie
Explorebigsky.com Editorial Assistant

BOZEMAN, BIG SKY – The third annual Small Business Saturday took place on Nov. 24. Founded by American Express in 2010, the idea behind the event is to help small businesses get more exposure during one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year.

Small, independently owned businesses are often unable to reduce prices, thus making it nearly impossible for them to have a presence over Thanksgiving weekend. In hopes of changing that, American Express offered a number of promotional items and marketing tools to small businesses interested in reaching more consumers over the weekend.

American Express sent 50 to 60 promotional doormats to the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce. Danielle Chamberlain, Visitor Information Services Manager at the Chamber, dropped off the doormats at random to businesses in hopes of encouraging people to shop locally and to keep money in Big Sky.

More than 250 small businesses in and around Bozeman took part in Small Business Saturday.

Bozeman Mayor Sean Becker, at the Nov. 19 City of Bozeman Commission meeting, made an Official Mayoral Proclamation urging “residents of our community to support small businesses and merchants on Small Business Saturday and throughout the year.” Free parking was offered at the downtown-parking garage as an incentive to bring shoppers downtown.

Music Villa, on East Main in Bozeman, reported steady business that Saturday. The independent music store had heavily advertised for this year’s event.

“Advertising helped the whole downtown and put the bug in people’s ear to shop downtown instead of at the mall,” owner Paul Decker said. “More people are catching on.”

Big Sky is already looking to next year. Chamberlain plans to put together a pamphlet for Small Business Saturday 2013, making it easier for locals to shop and reminding them of the importance of shopping locally.