The Saturday after Black Friday is Small Business Saturday. This year it’s on November 26 — mark it on your calendars.
That’s because this is the day to pledge to purchase something from a David, not a Goliath. Think: mom-and-pop establishments, Shopify boutiques, Wix website warriors, and local artisans.
It’s a day intended to counteract the wild consumerism of Black Friday and support the future of your local community’s economy.
What is Small Business Saturday?
In 2010, on the back of the Great Recession, American Express launched “Small Business Saturday” — a campaign to inspire consumers to shop locally and to amplify the profiles of small businesses. (Any business with fewer than 500 employees is considered a small business.)
Now always on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday aims to funnel some of our holiday spending toward local businesses. Think of Small Business Saturday as a palate cleanser from all the big-box corporate consumption we indulge in on Black Friday:
Small Business Saturday centers small businesses, which account for two out of every three jobs added in the past 25 years, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy. The U.S. has about 32 million independent businesses. They matter.
“Small businesses keep our communities vibrant,” says Marianne Rausch, vice president of Small Business Saturday & Shop Small, American Express. “They are the lifeblood of our communities that help create jobs, boost the economy, and enrich our neighborhoods.”
In 2011, even the U.S. Senate passed a resolution to support Small Business Saturday.
Last year, the day reached an all-time high with an estimated $23.3 billion in U.S. consumer-reported spending, says Rausch. And in total, U.S. consumers have spent an estimated $163 billion on Small Business Saturday since its creation.
As a result of the day’s success and potential, Amex has grown the holiday into a global “Shop Small” movement to help more small businesses year-round. While Amex created the day, the U.S. Small Business Administration is a co-sponsor. As well, the non-partisan entrepreneur group Women Impacting Public Policy partners with the credit card company to promote the day.
How to shop and support on Small Business Saturday
There’s more to Shop Small Saturday than pulling out your credit or debit card (although that’s certainly part of it).
Here are four ways to participate:
1. Look local for your holiday purchases
When you’re making your holiday shopping budget and/or deciding what gifts to buy, be sure to factor in purchasing from a small business. Encourage your family and friends to join you in the “Shop Small” quest.
And even if you don’t plan on indulging in the post-Thanksgiving gift-buying rush, there are still ways for you to shop small:
- Instead of going to a chain gas station for an automatic car wash, visit an auto detail shop and get your car washed by someone who will put a personal touch on your ride.
- Do you typically buy your Christmas cards from a chain pharmacy or big box retailer? Why not buy from an independent artist instead?
- Rather than going to a restaurant that runs national commercials, try out the restaurant in your hometown that sponsors the local youth sports team.
2. Shop with Instacart
If you can’t make it to a store on Small Business Saturday, you can still participate by using a service like Instacart. Instacart also partners with local stores. So not only can you help our small businesses, but also those side hustlers trying to make some extra cash in the gig economy.
Read more: The best credit card to use with Instacart
2. Become a repeat customer
While you’re at the small business, be sure to sign up for any rewards and loyalty programs, if they have them. Being a repeat customer is important and, not only that, but being on a mailing list means you’re likely to hear about upcoming deals and events before the general public.
Plus, the spirit of Shop Small Saturday is to make it a habit to shop small all time — not just as a one-off event.
This is especially the case after COVID-19’s shutdowns hurt so many small businesses and local communities.
3. Spread the love on social media
After shopping at a small business, hop on your social media channels, tag the business in a post and use the #shopsmall hashtag to promote it. Small business owners may not have million-dollar marketing budgets, but they do have the power of the people — the consumer — to help them thrive.
One motto to remember when engaging with small businesses is if the service is good, tell a friend. If the service is bad, tell the business.
How to find participating small businesses
Amex has a Shop Small map where shoppers can search by store name, zip code, city, or address, and find local businesses that are participating. You can click on the website’s map to find out the 411 — address, hours, website, etc. For those who prefer to shop online, Amex has a list of participating online businesses as well.
To be clear, even if an independent business isn’t an Amex merchant, that doesn’t mean you can’t shop there for Small Business Saturday. The day is about supporting the local economy and giving exposure to businesses that may not have major advertising dollars — not necessarily just about using your Amex charge card.
Why is it important to shop small?
There are many reasons to support small businesses, who typically don’t have the budget or resources of major chains, but still provide high-quality services and products worthy of your hard-earned dollars.
Here are some other reasons:
1. They invest in the local community
Terrell McCoy is the co-owner of Gwap Auto Detail & Car Wash in south suburban Chicago. During the summer, he offers informal internships to local kids.
“It’s a way for them to make some money, do something positive and keep them off the street,” McCoy says. “It’s a good way to help our kids see that working hard and putting your all into something that you want is very important.”
McCoy is like many small business owners who invest locally. Small business owners “donate 250% more than bigger businesses to local nonprofits and community causes,” according to SCORE, a network of volunteer, expert business mentors.
In addition, only 13.6% of revenue from chain stores is re-circulated locally, but 48% of revenue from a local independent business is re-circulated locally, according to data compiled by the American Independent Business Alliance.
2. They’re more environmentally sound
Depending on your location, you could walk or ride a bike to a small business, cutting down on transportation pollution and use of natural resources.
Also, local business owners often work with other vendors in the community, which shrinks the carbon footprint in the area.
People who live in neighborhoods with more local businesses log 26% fewer auto miles than people who don’t, according to Sustainable Connections, an organization that promotes small businesses.
Rarely do small businesses contribute to sprawl or deplete ecosystems.
3. They create jobs for locals
Corporate firms often send in an outside team to work in a new location. That’s not the case for a small business.
For instance, Moriarty’s Gem Art is a family-owned business in Crown Point, Indiana.
“Our family not only designs jewelry, but we travel the world for gems and cut them in our very own shop,” says owner Jeff Moriarty. “While others may be outsourcing all their work, everything is done in-house by our family.”
In the second quarter of 2021, small business employment grew by 919,000, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
4. They can often offer better pricing
In smaller geographic areas, independent businesses can make the local area more financially competitive, says Sai Blackbyrn, CEO of Coach Foundation.
“A local farmer, for instance, might be able to provide less expensive goods since he doesn’t have to pay for shipping,” Blackbyrn says. “It’s similar to how an efficient start-up may be able to develop new technologies more quickly than its heavy-handed bureaucratic rival.”
Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, and Small Business Saturday is a great way to support them. You can shop at local businesses, which invest in the local community, are more environmentally sound, create jobs for locals, and can often offer better pricing.
So, get out there and shop small!
Featured image: iJeab/Shutterstock.com