SAN DIEGO — Liberty Station’s 88-foot Norfolk Pine tree was lit up for the first time this season Friday night, adorned with colored lights and light-up ornaments.

Hundreds of people attended the tree lighting, which also sent a lot of people inside the public market at Liberty Station ahead of Small Business Saturday.

The small businesses inside have been getting ready for Small Business Saturday.

“We are the Old Town Soap Company, we are veteran-owned personal care and wellness brand,” said owner Ernestine Brown, who started the company in 2012, but opened up inside the Liberty Public Market in 2020.

Every small business has their own story of what got them started.

“It was a form of psychological therapy for me when I was in the military, and so it was therapeutic and I wanted to just share that with the world,” Brown said.

Brown set out new gift sets ahead of the busiest shopping weekend of the year, hoping to entice shoppers.

Small business owners say it is important to not just shop small this Saturday, but also throughout the year.

“I feel blessed to be in operation,” Brown said.

American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010. The company said that for every one dollar spent in a small business, 67 cents stays in the community.