The Enduring Appeal of Small Business Saturday

Among the flurry of retail events that surround Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday is now almost an oasis of shopping sanity. Nestled in-between the big-box store door-busting of Black Friday and the onslaught of online deals that have expanded far beyond Cyber Monday in recent years, this celebration of local businesses is a comparatively tranquil retail experience. With around 28 million small businesses making up more than 99% of American companies, these are the owners and organizations that represent the backbone of the U.S. economy. Small Business Saturday is an attempt to support these businesses by encouraging locals to keep those holiday dollars in their community. small business saturday banner


The Origins of Small Business Saturday

Somewhat ironically, the day that now encourages us to "Shop Small" is an initiative from one of the largest names in finance. American Express (AMEX) first promoted the day in 2010, as a counterpoint to the well-known Black Friday sales and the growing popularity of Cyber Monday. In the seven years since, AMEX has developed the concept as a nationwide promotional event that encourages shoppers to get off the Internet, out of the chains, and into the independent stores of Main St. The company provides promotional support and national media attention that small businesses would otherwise find it hard to attract. The intention is to create a connection with customers and for local retailers to deliver the kind of shopping experience that cavernous big box stores and anonymous e-commerce deals cannot provide. The sentiment plays out in the real world on Small Business Saturday, where personal interactions and timeless advice make for a shopping experience that's refreshing, rather than exhausting.  [embed][/embed]


Support Your Community on Small Business Saturday

So how can you get in on the local action? First, select an area or two that you'll visit for your Saturday shopping. The AMEX small business map makes this easy enough. Next, make a list of the items you're looking for and the participating retailers in your area that are likely to meet your needs. As you plan your trip, don't forget to factor in refreshments! All that shopping is going to work up an appetite that local restaurants will be happy to help with. Plenty of food stores, cafes and bars also get into the spirit of Small Business Saturday, so you should .And if you still have some dollars in your shopping budget when you get home, remember that Etsy sellers are small business owners as well and would be happy to ease your holiday gifting burden. Stores on Main St USA Finally, don't forget to share your experiences. Local businesses are traditionally driven by word-of-mouth recommendations, which applies more than ever in a digital world. Take pictures, post social media updates, and leave positive reviews when a business meets or exceeds your expectations. Use the hashtags #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat so that more people see your posts and consider local stores. As if opening your wallet to local business owners wasn't enough, it's also worth remembering that your dollars will also go further to support good causes in your community. That's because research suggests small businesses donate around 250% more money to non-profits and community organizations than their big business counterparts. Will you shop small for the holiday season? Or are you a local business with a particularly ingenious marketing plan to share? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Linkedin. We'll be sharing some of the best small business marketing stories from Small Business Saturday and beyond in a future article before the year is out! [search-tag]  

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