This Thanksgiving, ditch Black Friday and opt for Shop Small Saturday in Palmer - you'll help support local businesses and you may find yourself a treat or two. Instead of fighting crowds at a big box store, spend your Saturday strolling through downtown Palmer, supporting members of your community.

Shop Small Saturday is a national movement sponsored in part by American Express to highlight unique, locally owned businesses. This is the 10th year for the program nationally. Downtown Palmer merchants have participated in the past, and every year it gets more popular. Not only will you find great deals at many of the shops, you'll also find owners who welcome shoppers with free cookies, coffee, cider and other treats.

This year, approximately 35 merchants are participating - a full list of deals can be found at the event's Facebook page. For example, the Musk Ox Farm is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and is offering 30 percent off all Musk Ox Farm Qiviut yarns and garments, and it's the only day of the year it is on sale. You can also check out their amazing new Colony Barn restoration. Other highlights include discounts throughout downtown ranging from 15 percent off bicycles to homemade goods, free gift wrapping and demonstrations at many of the businesses.

After participating in Shop Small Saturday, don't forget to come back to Palmer on Dec. 13-15 for Colony Christmas!

Black Friday is also a chance to follow with the national movement created by REI, #OptOutside. Instead of battling shoppers for the greatest deal, spend time with your family outdoors. The Alaska State Parks are helping that movement by offering free parking at all Alaska State Parks facilities on Friday.