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12 Ways to Take Advantage of Small Business Saturday This Year
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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
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In 2018, consumers spent approximately $17.8 billion in the United States on Small Business Saturday, according to American Express. While it’s still less well-known than its sibling celebrations, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the holiday has gained momentum since its creation in 2010. In 2011, the U.S. Senate passed a unanimous resolution in support of Small Business Saturday.

Always celebrated on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, this year (2019), Small Business Saturday falls on November 30th. How can you celebrate as a consumer or a small-business owner?

What is the purpose of Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday is sandwiched between two other shopping-centric celebrations — Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s meant to honor and support small businesses and local community establishments. Like its sibling holidays, it occurs during the start of the holiday season, giving customers a chance to get a head start on their shopping (with some great deals, of course).

Shopping small often means shopping local, which boosts your community’s economy. Moreover, these establishments often support nonprofits in the area, which means you’re both contributing when you take advantage of the small businesses nearby.

Who created Small Business Saturday?

American Express established Small Business Saturday on November 27, 2019, in an effort to encourage people to “shop small” and give attention to local establishments. After the movement gained momentum, the credit card giant began encouraging small businesses to spread the word and started offering resources such as advertising. The holiday has expanded every year, with more and more businesses and customers getting involved. Even Barack Obama has shown support for the movement by shopping at small, local establishments with his daughters on the holiday.

6 things to do as a shopper.

As a shopper, the most important thing you can do on Small Business Saturday is, well, shop! Here are some tips on how you can guide your shopping to support your local stores.

1. Start early.

Even if you know a tiny gem of a shop that seemingly no one else has discovered, on Small Business Saturday, you better bet they will. Get there early to beat the crowds, before all the merchandise you want is gone. Plus, you may be able to snag some early deals. Also, pay attention to online discounts small businesses — local or not — post, because you may not even have to leave the comfort of your own home to take advantage of huge savings. 

2. Visit your favorite small businesses.

Do you have a favorite coffee shop ( that’s NOT Starbucks)? How about a cute little boutique where you found the perfect dress to wear to your friend’s wedding? Maybe even a restaurant where the waiters all know your name? These are the ideal spots to hit on Small Business Saturday. 

3. Check out new establishments.

But don’t just stick to the tried and true organizations you know and love. This is the perfect time to venture out of your comfort zone and look for something new. If you always buy your clothes at chains, take a look at what the independent shop around the corner has to offer. Have you been meaning to try that new bakery that just opened down the street? Get your morning muffin there. 

American Express allows you to search for small businesses in your area that accept Amex cards. (Of course, keep in mind that some small businesses in your area might not accept Amex.)

4. Shop with friends.

Bring your friends along to support your local businesses and take advantage of the great deals they have to offer. It’s always more fun to shop with a buddy, after all.

5. Spread the word on social media.

Encourage others to take advantage of Small Business Saturday by sharing the message across your social media channels. Remember to use the official hashtag, #ShopSmall.

6. Be a smart consumer.

Many small businesses support local nonprofits. And it feels great to give back. Seek out stores that donate a portion of their proceeds to good causes, especially ones you support, too. If they don’t say upfront, ask if they partner with or donate to any nonprofits, local or national. You’ll be a more informed consumer.

6 things to do if you are a small business.

1. Start early.

That means open your doors early, as well as plan and begin offering deals before the big day, too. More discounts mean more profits. If you begin promotions in, say, early November, you’ll beat the mad dash (and the competition) on Small Business Saturday (not to mention Black Friday).

2. Optimize your website.

And your social media accounts while you’re at it. Make sure you have ads in place reminding people about Small Business Saturday. It doesn’t hurt to create some email campaigns and social media ads to alert prospective customers to any discounts and deals you’re offering. 

Don’t forget to spruce up your website, too. Now is the perfect time to change up the banners and make sure all the links are working. Ensure that it’s fully optimized for mobile use, too.

3. Use free resources.

American Express’s Shop Small Studio offers plenty of free resources to help you gear up for Small Business Saturday, from customizable posters to email templates. 

4. Work with other small businesses.

Collaborate with other organizations in your area to encourage people to make a day of it. You might offer maps of the small businesses in your area marked with the deals they’re offering, create a unique hashtag for your community, give out punchcards and prizes to people who visit or shop at the most small businesses in given day and so on. You could even have a neighborhood party!

5. Offer great deals.

This is the most important part: make sure you’re incentivizing customers. That means discounts, but it also means other draws, such as:

• Freebies

• Raffles

• Free gift-wrapping

• Savings when they shop with you again 

6. Keep the momentum going.

Small Business Saturday is more than just a day — it’s a way to gain exposure for your business, attract new customers and keep your community thriving. Keep the momentum going by using the holiday as a launching pad. For example, make sure you collect customers’ contact info to send future announcements and deals. You might also offer season-long discounts, starting on the holiday. You could even offer frequent flyer rewards with further incentives on Small Business Saturday, such as double points.

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