It’s Small Business Saturday, falling on Nov. 26 — the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It’s a chance to show your support for small business, encourage customers to patronize your business, and score some free shopping money.
It’s also a good deal. FedEx and American Express are giving consumers $25 to use to shop on Small Business Saturday. Small businesses can get $100 worth of free Facebook advertising and a range of free tools to use to market their companies.
Haven’t heard of Small Business Saturday? American Express launched it with a campaign to get consumers to “shop small” during Thanksgiving weekend, the traditional kickoff of holiday shopping. Two holidays have become associated with Thanksgiving: Black Friday for big sales and Cyber Monday to shop online.
“Our hope is that Small Business Saturday becomes an iconic part of the American holiday shopping season, that it establishes itself on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and it becomes a tradition that you’re going to give some of your shopping dollars to small businesses” said Susan Sobbott, president of American Express Open.
The event caught on quickly last year. Amex reports a 28% increase in sales from the previous year at small businesses that accept American Express. This year, more than 200 organizations have signed on as sponsors, 1.5 million people have friended Small Business Saturday’s Facebook page, and FedEx, Facebook, and Google among other major corporations are participating.
“We did not anticipate the momentum it would create and how much attention it would get,” Sobbott said. “This year we’re putting even more time and investment in making small businesses aware of Small Business Saturday and giving them tools to leverage it to market their own businesses.”
And you know what? Shopping at small businesses is fun.
Last year, I got my whole family involved. We started the day at a homey coffee shop in Ashland, Ore., before strolling Main Street, talking to shoppers and shop owners. I bought some great gifts — including some for myself! My sister, Karen Colbert in Atlanta, got a funky necklace at a store she had never tried before. My brother-in-law, Scott, got fancy shaving oil at a barbershop.
We all ended up spending more than the $25 credit from American Express we had registered for earlier.
“We had a great family day,” my sister said.
Sure, Small Business Saturday started as a corporate campaign, but it’s a great idea. Use it to learn about the wonderful things small businesses offer in your community and to find some new favorite places to shop year-round. And use it as a way of learning new marketing techniques for your small business.
The Small Business Saturday Facebook page has a range of promotional tools.
Whether you’re a business owner or a consumer, Small Business Saturday is more than a shopping event; it’s a values statement.
It’s a way of acting on our commitment to small business.
Of course, people should patronize small, independent businesses every day. But having a day set aside especially for small business is a good reminder of the importance that we have in sustaining our communities.
I’m hoping to see President and Michelle Obama out there shopping small, too.