It’s time to start planning for this year’s Small Business Saturday, the “Shop Small” event that will celebrate its 10th anniversary on November 30, 2019.  According to the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, 104 million shoppers spent a record high of $17.8 billion locally on that day in 2018.  

Business Wire reports that communities across the U.S. and Puerto Rico celebrated Small Business Saturday last year with special events and activities ranging from lighting up the Empire State Building in “American Express” blue, to crafting a life-sized Shop Small® gingerbread shop in San Diego, to block parties featuring local jazz and salsa bands in San Juan.

Small Business Saturday has an impressive recognition factor of 70%. This event – together with the efforts of many Buy Local organizations – has been essential in reminding the public of the importance of local businesses.  It would be a mistake to have your shop and/or merchants association miss out on this low-cost promotion.

The best starting point is the Shop Small website, which offers many tools and ideas for free.  Organizations are invited to become Neighborhood Champions, and will receive a box of merchandise to distribute to local businesses.  In the past this event kit has included the popular cloth Shop Small tote bags as well as signs, door mats, buttons, banners, balloons, and more.  In order to be eligible to become a Neighborhood Champion, you must be affiliated with a state or local chamber of commerce, community organization or be someone who is an official community organizer.

The Shop Small Studio will help your shop create its own posters and social media posts, and includes lots of ideas for promoting your business on SBS. It just takes a couple of minutes to fill in your business information, and your download of customized graphics starts immediately.  This year there is also a free four month trial of Ripl Pro, a program that allows you to create social media videos and graphics, available through the Shop Small Studio.  (Like many free trials, it continues with a monthly fee after four months unless you make a point to cancel.)

Another new feature this year is Instagram Stories, which can be customized or used in their existing format.  Given the popularity of this type of social media post, this is a great resource.  Your story will be most effective if it includes a special offer or other reason to visit your business on Small Business Saturday.

I’m also excited about the Shop Small Passport materials that are being offered.  We’ve done a version of this on Monroe Street in the past, inviting customers to visit as many shops and restaurants as possible on Small Business Saturday in order to be eligible for a prize drawing.   The one that American Express provides was inspired by an apparel company in Detroit that arranged for its neighboring businesses to give a discount, refreshments or small gift whenever a shopper asked to have their passport stamped.  There’s also information online about creating a Welcome Station for participants to go to in order to pick up a passport.

In addition to creating buzz about your own store for Small Business Saturday, don’t forget to use this opportunity to get the media in your area talking about the importance of supporting locally owned businesses. (If you need talking points, go to your Buy Local organization or AMIBA.)  Because as Alyssa Gregory states on The Balance, “One of the best features of Small Business Saturday is the boost it gives to the idea of community.”

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder