How will you be celebrating Small Business Saturday this year? The 9th annual SBS will be held on November 24 – the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. Last year, according to Business Wire, an estimated 43% of American adults shopped or dined small on Small Business Saturday. Why wouldn’t you want to be part of this national focus on supporting locally owned shops and restaurants?

The Shop Small Studio, backed by American Express, has lots of free tools and ideas to help you jump on the bandwagon. And you don’t need to accept American Express in your store in order to participate. Start getting involved through messaging: let potential customers know that you are a small business, and extend an invitation for them to come to your store. Creating a Facebook event is an easy way to do this, and if you boost the post it will be seen by those who don’t already like your page.

Stores around the country have done many different fun promotions to promote Small Business Saturday. Our neighborhood often uses the cloth Shop Small tote bags provided by the backers of SBS as incentives for those visiting various businesses, and we’ve made up prize drawing slips that we each use in our shop or restaurant that day. Holding a prize drawing is a great way to build your email list, although you should nmention on the slip if you intend to send occasional promotional emails to those who sign up.

Your community’s Buy Local group might want to hold a press conference to call attention to the importance of shopping locally. This message cannot be repeated often enough, especially at the beginning of the busy holiday season. Be sure to invite some elected officials to offer their endorsements of supporting local businesses.

A fun idea for Small Business Saturday is to encourage customers to take a selfie with props you create using the Shop Small Studio resources (mount them on a chopstick if you want customers to be able to hold several). You could use a “step and repeat” banner featuring your store’s logo as a backdrop – these are not expensive, and can be used for future events as well.

Be sure to suggest using hashtags such as your business district’s name (in our case #monroestreetmadison), #your store name, and both #SmallBizSat and #ShopSmall. With customers’ permission, post some images on your store’s social media pages. And here’s a clever idea from Entrepreneur: “To keep the Small Business Saturday momentum going, select the most creative, most liked or most fun photos to win a special prize afterward — one the winners can only get by returning to your store later in the holiday season.”

Happy Retailing,
Carol “Orange” Schroeder