BRIDGEPORT — This holiday season, forget the madness at the Black Friday big box stores and look to the neighborhood.
That's the message behind the Small Business Saturday campaign organized by Janet and Leanne Scanlon, the mother-daughter co-owners of the Hardscrabble Gifts store, 3333 S. Halsted St.
The shopping event, the local offshoot of a credit card company's nationwide campaign, takes place throughout the Bridgeport area on Saturday, when nearly two dozen stores will offer discounts, pass out gift bags and generally just spread the virtues of the "shop small" ethos.
The idea is to dissuade shoppers from going out to malls or overcrowded big box stores and prove to everyone that "you can actually get everything here," Leanne Scanlon said.
To help lure customers, many stores are offering discounts and are including a few special surprises.
At Hardscrabble, for example, the Scanlons have rented a photo booth that customers can use from noon-4 p.m. They'll also offer 15 percent off everything in the store and give customers who shopped at other local businesses a coupon good for $5 off. Just bring the receipt.
Next door, Chitown Pickers, home to all sorts of unique antiques and home furnishings, is slashing 25 percent off any purchase.
Nearby Jackalope Coffee and Tea House, 755 W. 32nd St., will host artist Leo Perez, who will be offering hand-drawn, personalized sketches from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The cost is $15, with $5 headed to Toys for Tots.
At the adjacent Blue City Cycles, 3201 S. Halsted St., shop owners Clare Knipper and Owen Lloyd will offer shoppers a spin of the "Wheel of Doom," which will offer in-store coupons as prizes.
Coyle & Herr, the home furnishings store at 1200 W. 35th St. in the Bridgeport Art Center, will give away a $100 gift certificate every hour, beginning at 11 a.m. The White Sox mascot Southpaw will make a cameo there from 4:30-5:15 p.m.
At Bark N Bites Pet Boutique, 702 W. 35th St., dogs get a free treat with any purchase. Just down the street, musician Bob Dain at 312 Vintage Guitars is putting lots of instruments and accessories on sale.
Hungry shoppers will get 10 percent off at Gio's Cafe and Deli, 2724 S. Lowe Ave.
Even the banks are getting in on the action. South Central Bank, 808 W. 35th St., is welcoming shoppers with free coffee, hot chocolate and cookies in the bank lobby, and Washington Federal, 2869 S. Archer Ave. is offering a cash incentive for customers opening a special checking account.
There are other deals to be had, too. Check the Hardscrabble's Facebook page for updated information on discounts.
Shoppers can also enter a raffle for special prizes supplied by local businesses. Here's how it works: Pick up a reward card at these businesses — Bark N Bites, Chitown Pickers, Coyle & Herr, Gio’s or Hardscrabble — and visit any of the businesses listed on the card to get it punched.
Get it punched or initialed at those stores, then drop off the card at the South Loop Chamber of Commerce, which will raffle off the cards for the prizes.
And if the prospect of a good deal isn't enough to get you out into the stores, maybe an appearance by Santa Claus is — the fat man is expected to pop into several area storefronts throughout the day.