Carol Baumann had already hit Schnee’s before browsing in Country Bookshelf by 10 a.m. Saturday. She planned to head to the Holiday Farmers’ Market next.

At Country Bookshelf, she was looking for gifts for friends and grandkids, and because she likes to support the shop. Baumann said she appreciates the environment that local shops create.

“We just love the downtown area because it’s so busy and alive,” Baumann said.

American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010 to encourage more holiday shopping at local businesses, according to its website. It follows Black Friday and precedes Cyber Monday. In 2011, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution to support the nationwide event.

In contrast to the other shopping holidays focused on corporate box stores and online retailers, the “shop small” mantra of Saturday’s event promotes spending dollars that will stay in the places they’re spent.

Kasey Kane Charbonneau, manager of Country Bookshelf, said sales on Small Business Saturday are at least double what they are on a regular day. She said that it’s obvious people in Bozeman care about small businesses, but that it’s nice to have a dedicated holiday.

“Bozeman would be nothing without the downtown culture here,” Kane Charbonneau said.

The shop also planned a couple of events on Saturday in conjunction with Indies First, a national campaign to support independent bookstores on Small Business Saturday. Author Kyle Steiner read his new children’s book “Snow Ghost” and Judith Heilman, executive director of the Montana Racial Equity Project, was on hand to chat and give book recommendations.

Bozeman’s downtown is filled with unique specialty shops. Down the street and around the corner from Country Bookshelf sits the Montana Honey Bee Co., on Tracy Avenue. The store not only sells all types of honey products, like barbeque sauce and soaps, but it also offers gear and classes to people interested in becoming beekeepers themselves.

Joyce Thorson, owner of the store, said that between 100 and 200 people sign up for the beekeeping classes each year. They learn the basics from A to Z.

“Bozeman itself is very bee-friendly,” Thorson said.

On the other side of Main Street, specialty yarn shop, Stix, planned something special for Small Business Saturday. Tracy St. John, part owner of the shop, said that in the past, Stix has offered special sales on the holiday, but this year they wanted to give back.

In an event called “Small business, Big community,” Stix invited local knitters to come to the shop to make warm clothing for nonprofits like the Warming Center and Family Promise. Staff made hot cider, set out cookies and offered discounted yarn for the event.

“We have a really great community of knitters, and you can only make so much stuff for yourself,” St. John said.

A steady stream of people were already wandering around Main Street early Saturday morning, some sporting “Shop Small” tote bags. Most stores planned to stay open until 6 p.m., and the parking garage offered free parking all day.

Country Bookshelf owner, Ariana Paliobagis, said she really enjoys Small Business Saturday.

“It’s one of our best, most fun days of the year,” Paliobagis said.

The Museum of the Rockies will be participating in another shopping holiday, the national Museum Store Sunday event, by offering 25% off storewide. All revenue of the store directly benefits the nonprofit museum. Free gift wrapping will be offered and admission is not required.

Shaylee Ragar can be reached at or at 582-2607.

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.