Most people are familiar with Black Friday—the day after Thanksgiving, when crowds line up outside big-box stores during pre-dawn hours to get good deals on everything from flat screen TVs to gaming consoles. But American Express is hoping more people will celebrate the day after Black Friday: Small Business Saturday.
For the fifth year in a row, American Express is sponsoring a day encouraging folks to support small businesses and independently owned local shops during the busy holiday shopping season. In 2013, small business spending was up 3.6% from 2012, and consumers reported spending $5.7 billion at independent retailers on Small Business Saturday. This year, Amex has lined up a number of events and promotions to make Small Business Saturday even bigger.
- A tour of regional shopping districts in Portland, Oregon
- A fashion show highlighting items from local merchants in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania
- A block party in Starke, Florida, featuring giveaways and live music
- A tree-lighting ceremony and chili-making contest in Idaho Falls, Idaho
- A festival in McKinney, Texas, where Santa will visit and people can take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage
Neighborhood Champions Boost Small Business Saturday Activities
American Express created a program called “Neighborhood Champions” to help support small businesses and bring attention to Small Business Saturday. To become a champion, organizations or individuals had to get at least 10 local independent businesses on board to participate in and publicize the event. More than 2,000 Neighborhood Champions have signed up, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
As part of the program, businesses have access to a number of resources to help make their Small Business Saturday events a success, including event guides and marketing materials to promote their involvement. They also will receive ‘Shop Small’ branded merchandise like buttons, balloons and tote bags to decorate their stores and offer to shoppers.
Many business organizations have signed on to support Small Business Saturday as well, including the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, the American Independent Business Alliance, the International Downtown Association, the Latino Coalition, the National Main Street Center, the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Women Impacting Public Policy.
FedEx, Microsoft and other big businesses help support small businesses
Some big businesses have partnered with American Express to support small businesses as well:
- FedEx will ship Small Business Saturday merchandise to business owners and Neighborhood Champions for free, and people can print two copies of the Small Business Saturday poster for free to help spread the word.
- Microsoft is offering small businesses $100 in Bing advertising credits to help publicize the event, and they are also offering marketing seminars for small business owners and giving away a digital education pack with tips for online marketing.
- Yelp is also giving away $100 in advertising credits and offering free online tools to help business owners boost their online presence.
- Eventbrite is serving as the official online hub for Small Business Saturday events and activities.