Blue doormats were placed outside by store owners with care, special signs hung in windows to lure shoppers.

From retail stores to gyms and inns on the Vineyard, 48 merchants participated in small business Saturday last week, the most the Island has seen since the shopping holiday was conceived by American Express in 2010, according to Nancy Gardella at the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce. Participating businesses said that while Saturday was busy, it wasn't necessarily busier than normal.

This was the first year the Chamber of Commerce partnered with American Express to promote the holiday that falls the day after Black Friday and two days before Cyber Monday.

While some people travel off-Island to hit the big retail chains for early bird promotions, Ms. Gardella said her hope was that people looking to shop on the Vineyard during the Thanksgiving weekend would see the small business Saturday swag in store windows and decide to shop at their neighborhood brick and mortar businesses.

“This year we got blue doormats, shop small signs, shop local canvas bags, balloons, stuff to put in windows to let people know,” Ms. Gardella said.

“What we found at the Chamber of Commerce was that by the end of the day our Islanders and seasonal homeowners back for Thanksgiving weekend are shopping local. So yes, it worked. People were out,” she said.

On the Island, Saturday seemed busier on the Island than Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Ms. Gardella said, but the chamber keeps no record of numbers to track the sales.

Stores ran various special promotions on Saturday, from discounts online to storewide savings. The Chamber of Commerce reached out to all Island businesses, Ms. Gardella said, and allowed anyone interested in participating to do so by providing signs and doormats for them to display.

“We had a cross section of businesses that participated,” she said. “Beyond retail. There were health and beauty salons offering discounts, hotels, even restaurants ran deals of the day. It went really very well.”

But while participation among business owners was up, and some businesses reported a small increase in sales, a sampling of businesses said there was little escalation in overall revenue from participation.

“It was a normal day, a little busier than normal,” said Dennis daRosa, who works at daRosa’s Martha’s Vineyard Printing in Oak Bluffs and is the president of the Oak Bluffs Association.

daRosa’s ran a storewide sale on Saturday, but didn’t see a large jump in sales, Mr. daRosa said. The store decided to participate in small business Saturday to “remind people that it’s a good thing to collectively get on the small business band wagon.”

He added that he saw it as an opportunity for all businesses to come together and show support for one another. “There are 40 year-round merchants in Oak Bluffs,” he said, “So when you add that to the retail places in Edgartown and in Vineyard Haven . . . if we have a quarter or a fifth or 20 per cent of the Island participating in small business Saturday, it’s pretty good.”

In Edgartown, Hob Knob general manager Diane Carr said small business Saturday felt like a regular day at the inn, which ran specials online for gift certificates and guest rooms booked that day. “We didn’t really get more business on Saturday,” she said, “For us it’s not that kind of shopping day.”

Like Mr. daRosa, she said the main goal of participation was to show community support. “We’ll most likely participate next year. The reason why we’re doing it is to show support for other businesses. If everyone participates it makes it a bigger and better thing for the community, not just for us,” she said.

Yet some businesses did report an increase in sales on Saturday, and credited the holiday for their success.

Sara Hill Mass who owns CrossFit Martha’s Vineyard in Vineyard Haven saw a spike in memberships on Saturday. Ms. Hill Mass ran a discounted membership price for new members on Saturday and promoted it online through her gym’s Facebook page. Three new memberships were sold, she said. “We average about 10 new members each month so three in one day is great. They all specifically mentioned the small business Saturday promotion, so that’s good,” she said.

Heather Kochin, owner of Rainy Day in Vineyard Haven, which runs a promotion each year on Black Friday, put the small business Saturday doormat out front of her store on Saturday, but generated more revenue on Friday.

“We had some specials around the store and we had signage informing people about what it was about . . . and it was definitely a busy Saturday but I don’t know if small business Saturday had anything to do with it. But it was a good turn out,” she said.

“I think we do a better Black Friday because we’ve been holding these early bird specials for the past eight years and it’s a tradition for many people who come to the Island that weekend to come and get a taste of the Black Friday frenzy on Main street Vineyard Haven,” Ms. Kochin said.

She added: “I just think it was a good weekend.”