‘Shop Small Saturday’ lasts 2 weeks; sign up by Mon.

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Have you ever had one of those days that seemingly lasts forever?

There’s one of those days coming up in Rio Rancho: “Small Business Saturday.”

This is the 10th year this national Small Business Saturday promotion has been sponsored by American Express, but this ain’t your typical one-day event. It begins the same day as the national event, Nov. 30, and ends Saturday, Dec. 14, coinciding with the annual Winterfest at City Center.

The Rio Rancho Regional Chamber of Commerce, which got on board with then first-term Mayor Gregg Hull to do the first Shop Small Saturday here in 2014, expanded it to a whole week last year.

And RRRCC President and CEO Jerry Schalow says that’s nothing: Small Business Saturday here will last two weeks this year. And to think, a similar promotion — “Buy Rio Rancho” — began with the idea of now-Sandoval County Commissioner Dave Heil in 2013.

“We really want a big bang out of this,” Schalow said during a planning committee meeting last week. “(We want) to focus on purchases and growth in Rio Rancho.”

That said, because the local chamber is an “area” chamber, merchants and businesses in Bernalillo and Corrales are also encouraged to participate and maybe bring some new consumers into their shops.

Hull and Schalow encouraged local businesses to take advantage of the resources American Express offers at no cost — but the deadline to do so is Monday (Oct. 28), so visit americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-small/ soon.

At that website, businesses can obtain free downloadable posters, social-media posts and an email template customizable in the Shop Small Studio, compliments of American Express.

Highlights of the two-week promotion include:

• Tree lighting at the Enchanted Hills Shopping Center on Nov. 22, with a “small-business pop-up” — basically mom-and-pop shops and home-operated businesses’ opportunity to interact with community members — and promotion of the upcoming Small Business Saturday.

• On the national day for the event, another small-business pop-up. Hospitality areas at the shopping center and at Harris Jewelers, plus KDSK-FM live remotes, giveaways every hour, an opportunity to get photos with Hull on a cardboard cutout for display on Facebook, a “rest and relax” event at a handful of eateries and breweries, and an opportunity for children ages 12 and up to enjoy themselves at Elevate trampoline park in Country Club Plaza.

• A Business After Hours event at Don Chalmers Ford on Dec. 10, with another small-business pop-up and a visit from Santa Claus.

• The annual Winterfest holiday event on Dec. 14 at the Star Center, featuring free ice skating, the final drawings for a photo with the mayor, vendors’ participation on the Star Center’s concourse, plus a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. There also will be the Winterfest parade that evening, with a contest with prizes for the best-decorated businesses floats in the parade.

The goal for the two-week promotion, said Hull, is “keeping the money inside the fence … which is what I call Sandoval County. … We’re going to try to make this a huge year.”

“There’s a civic-pride component to this,” added Matt Geisel, economic development and business relations manager for the City of Rio Rancho. “(We want to) let people know what’s in their back yard.”

According to the Small Business Economic Impact Study from American Express, because an average two-thirds of every dollar ($0.67) spent at small businesses in the U.S. stays in the local community, consumers’ local impact during the important holiday shopping season could be significant. Further, every dollar spent at small businesses creates an additional 50 cents in local business activity as a result of employee spending and businesses purchasing local goods and services.

Businesses that want to participate should let Schalow know their intentions, as a database and email list of participants is being kept; email him at jschalow@rrrcc.org.

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