Quiana Borden, owner of The Kitchen by Cooking With Que, provides plant-based healthy food options with a choice of meat additions in her Midtown restaurant. (Photo: Cooking with Cue)

For the last decade, Small Business Saturday has found stores bustling with customers looking to support their neighbors. 

But this year, things are different for those skipping big-box stores or malls.

To support local small businesses, shoppers are preparing to buy in person, but also to buy online and through gift cards because of coronavirus restrictions and concerns. 

And because many businesses have faced a long, challenging and costly year of adapting to safety protocols and switching to virtual platforms, shopping this season is not necessarily about deals, especially as some businesses are making the tough decision to shut their doors permanently. 

The number of small businesses operating in metro Detroit has decreased by 32.7% as of Nov. 9, the Opportunity Insights Economic Tracker reports. The tracker includes businesses in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne, Lapeer, Livingston and St. Clair counties. 

“I think this is probably the most critical Saturday this year in 2020 with everything that we’ve faced and with being in the middle of another shutdown,” said Kai Bowman, vice president of Detroit Means Business, a COVID-19 emergency response organization for businesses. “I think it’s going to be critical for Detroit businesses to get … love from the city.” 

In Detroit, a citywide initiative to shop local using the hashtag #ShopSmallDetroit will take place Saturday led by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and Detroit Means Business. Many businesses will run promotions during Small Business Saturday.

“It’s giving local businesses the jump-start that they need just before the holiday season to increase some of the foot traffic that they receive and some of the revenue they receive,” said Tenecia Johnson, business liaison for District 1, which is in northwest Detroit. “It’s a community-led initiative that rallies the neighborhood businesses together.”

About 200 businesses are participating in the Shop Local movement on Saturday and they range from restaurants to retail to even tax services. They can all be found at

Restaurant shifts back to curbside pickup

The Kitchen by CookingWithQue in Midtown opened in June 2019. On Small Business Saturday last year,  a tour in Midtown ended with eating plant-based healthy food options at the restaurant, said owner Quiana Broden, also known as “Que.” This year, even though there won’t be anyindoor dining, Broden said she hopes customers will order online at for  curbside pickup. 

More: 3 businesses find a sweet spot during the COVID-19 pandemic

More: Whitmer: Michigan needs federal aid, small business support as COVID-19 still spreading

“Our neighbors keep us going,” said Broden. “We thrive because they come and shop with us. I have 13 team members. My thought, even in August, was how do I make sure my team members can eat? For me, it’s never like I just want everybody to come and spend all their money at The Kitchen. I want to make sure that we support each other because that’s how we make it through this thing.”

Other local businesses and services also are expecting  customers to pour in support this weekend in person and online.

Gifts for front-line workers

When it comes to giving to health care workers on the front lines, Zoë Indigo Smith, owner and designer of The Medicine Mug, has high hopes for Small Business Saturday. The Black female-owned and doctor-owned business, online at, sells customizable mugs with the symbol of medicine as the handle. 

“It’s more important now than ever to support small businesses,” said Smith. “Small business owners will feel it more. Every time someone purchases something from a small business owner, there is a happy dance. There’s a light. There’s an energy that’s felt. It really is a gift. I think small business owners really look at their customers as a part of their extended family.” 

Smith advises front-line workers to find time for self-care and for loved ones of health care workers to find special gifts to show appreciation. Between taking care of patients, Smith said, “Self-care starts at home, and you can’t care for someone if you’re not caring for yourself first.”

Keeping her dream alive with women’s, men’s clothing

Patti Brock, owner of Annabelle’s Couture in Berkley, has been a small business owner for 26 years and sells women’s and men’s clothing, accessories and gift items. 

When she opened her first store, Excelsior!, Brock said she had three other jobs in addition to working at her store. She fulfilled her dream to open the store and wants other business owners to experience the same. You can find her business online at

“It’s really a time where we need to remember that businesses, like mine, make the world go ’round,” said Brock. “We need people to support us. This is our livelihood.” 

Brock expects to  offera weekend special, but notes that small businesses don’t always have the margins to give discounts. Especially after the downfalls of the pandemic. But Brock will offer 10% off if customers bring in school supplies that she plans to donate to a local school at a later date. 

Giving a gift that makes someone’s life easier

It’s important to not forget about the service industry. Giving the gift of lawn care, construction, cleaning, hair care, massages, learning and more could make someone’s day easier, while also keeping a business afloat. 

When it comes to Burgeon Lawn Care, which can be found online at, the company offers year-round subscription services that can be purchased for a household or can be gifted to someone else. The Black-owned company based in downtown Detroit has been serving metro Detroit for three years. 

“A lot of service businesses offer necessities that people need on a daily basis or weekly basis,” said Brandon Stevenson, president and CEO of the lawn care company. “With the pandemic going on, our service businesses, we need assistance,  as well as a lot of people in the community that need assistance. My goal is to help others, reach out to others as much as I can and also receive help from others. I think other service businesses would appreciate the same thing, as well.” 

Contact staff writer Chanel Stitt on Twitter: @ByChanelStitt. Become a subscriber.

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