Many small and independent retailers who are holding Small Business Saturday shopping events Thanksgiving weekend are banding together with others, believing that there’s strength in numbers.

Small Business Saturday, started in 2010 to encourage consumers to shop in their small local stores rather than national chains and what are called big box stores, has become an event in neighborhoods, towns, even cities as retailers recognize they can draw more customers as a cohesive group than by offering discounts and promotions on their own.

In Richmond, the Retail Merchants group has put together an online gift guide this year as part of its “Think. Shop. Buy. Local” program that promotes the support of local retailers.

The online gift guide features merchandise from about three dozen local retailers including those independent Richmond merchants who have shops at Stony Point Fashion Park and Regency mall.

It features gifts at every price point from retailers including Ladles & Linens Kitchen Shoppe, Whitley’s Peanut Factory, Crossroads Art Center, Lustre by Adolph, Janet Brown Interiors, Reservoir Distillery, Biggs Ltd. and Fido Park Avenue Dog Boutique.

The guide, which will run through Christmas, is available at

“It is so important to support your local retailer,” said Nancy Thomas, president and CEO of the local Retail Merchants group.

“The local retailer gives so much more back,” she said. Retailers, she said, pay taxes to local governments that fund roads, schools, local responders and more.

“They are the ones that are really making the economic impact,” she said. “They are the ones supporting the local charities like the Girl Scouts or the softball teams. They are the ones out there.”

Local merchants elsewhere across the country are conducting similar programs this weekend.

Many Small Business Saturday events have grown to the point where they’re organized by local chambers of commerce and community business organizations that have big marketing budgets.

About 200 indie retailers throughout Portland, Ore., are banding together in a marketing effort called Shop Little Boxes that will run from Friday through Sunday.

The stores are offering discounts, many of them 10 percent, and shoppers get raffle ticket numbers for each visit and purchase they make. Shop Little Boxes has a smartphone app that shoppers can use to find participating stores and to register their raffle ticket numbers.

Retailers say they do see sales blip up during Small Business Saturday, but their aim is also to remind shoppers that they are there year-round.

The event in Henderson, Nev., like many others, is aimed at fostering good will; Shop Small Henderson will be a five-hour block party with activities for children. Parents may not be able to do much shopping during such events, but owners say they do return to shop after the party is over.

Landlords also sponsor Small Business Saturday events at their developments. Pier Village, a residential complex in Long Branch, N.J., has about 30 retail tenants, and many will be taking part in a communal Small Business Saturday event.

Some of the events aim at giving craft makers and artisans a place to sell their creations; about a dozen craft makers will take part in a pop-up event at Broadway Market, a retail complex in Seattle.

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