Local businesses in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids will offer special deals on Small Business Saturday

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Raygun’s Cedar Rapids store, 1028 3rd St SE. — Jav Ducker/Little Village

For the most ambitious shoppers (who often make the rest of us look bad), the end of Thanksgiving means the start of the holiday shopping season.

But because sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday — the two biggest shopping days of the year — typically benefit big retailers the most, American Express started Small Business Saturday in 2010. The shopping event encourages people to support their local economy.

Small Business Saturday has grown every year. In 2013, there were more than 1,400 organizations and individuals signed up to be “neighborhood champions” and host organized events. Last year’s Small Business Saturday had 7,500 neighborhood champions.

In Iowa City, the Iowa City Downtown District is a neighborhood champion, while in Cedar Rapids, NewBo City Market, Czech Village Association and Czech Village/New Bo Main Street District are all champions.

More than 30 businesses in Iowa City will offer discounts. Small Business Saturday also marks the beginning of the city’s holiday activities, including visits from Santa Claus, free horse-drawn carriage rides and a scavenger hunt to find elves hidden all over town.

In Cedar Rapids, nearly 40 businesses are participating in the push to shop local. But the first 200 people wanting to shop in the New Bo/Czech Village area get the best deal. Starting at 10 a.m., shoppers can pick up a bag filled with offers and coupons at the Cherry Building’s 11th Avenue entrance, next to the giant cherry sculpture. (You can’t miss it.)

Businesses in Czech Village are also offering “Passport to Savings.” Pick up a passport — no purchase necessary — at a participating business, and get it stamped at other businesses. After you collect 10 stamps, the passport can be entered in a drawing for a $150 cash prize.

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