Started as an initiative promoted by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday has caught the imagination of small business owners and those who love their communities all over the country. Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to look past the chaos of shopping at big-box stores and retail chains on Black Friday, instead focusing attention on local businesses the day after. The event has already proven itself wildly successful at bringing communities together.
Small Business Saturday Boosts Awareness of Local Businesses
As more holiday shoppers add Small Business Saturday to their increasingly varied holiday shopping plans, they are more likely to make personal connections with the owners of local shops; many local business owners find they strike up conversations and begin relationships with customers because the day gives the customers permission to do so. The shoppers show up not just to run errands and cross items off a list, but to make a positive statement of commitment to their local business community. Many small businesses host special events or offer bonuses on the day, such as book signings and readings, special snacks for shoppers and one-day-only discounts. As a result, some small businesses have found that their foot traffic shows a fivefold increase over neighboring Saturdays.
Small Business Saturday Allows Businesses to Work Together
With the support of American Express, local vendors are able to team up with a scale of cross-promotion that would almost certainly be impossible if each business were working alone. When a neighborhood shopping district bands together to support Small Business Saturday, it's able to attract shoppers who can head to the area intentionally rather than to the mall. Some neighborhoods join together to create games for shoppers, such as giving them "shopping passports" to be stamped at different shops or creating "shopping Scrabble" or "shopping Bingo" with special prizes for shoppers who complete the game.
Small Business Saturday Helps Online Vendors
In 2014, e-commerce website Etsy teamed up as a sponsor of Small Business Saturday, allowing the smallest of local businesses to get in on the action: the independent craftspeople who sell their wares on an individual basis on Etsy. Small Business Saturday now gives these independent artisans an unprecedented opportunity to meet their customers face-to-face by letting them set up trunk shows at local businesses. The goal is to drive more foot traffic to those businesses by leveraging the Etsy sellers' customer base, while also letting the Etsy sellers make personal connections with existing and new fans in their own communities.
By participating in Small Business Saturday, local businesses and artisans create a sense of community by working together and extend that community by establishing personal connections with customers. Customers become more aware of the small businesses that are unique to their own communities, and they get to enjoy a day of shopping rather than suffering through the chaos of Black Friday. Small Business Saturday is a win-win for businesses and communities alike.
Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net