Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express in 2010, dedicating the Saturday after Thanksgiving to supporting small businesses across the country. Since its inception, consumers have reported spending a combined estimate of $120 billion.  The impact of SBS in raising awareness of the importance of shopping at locally owned stores over the past decade can’t be underestimated – but like everything else, COVID is having an impact on this year’s event.

American Express is no longer the sole sponsor of Small Business Saturday, but their brand is closely associated with the day.  A few months into the pandemic, American Express shifted its emphasis for this year to the Shop Small Movement, offering card holders a bonus for spending money at independent retailers and restaurants.  Small business owners who accept American Express are eligible to receive support materials and offers including discounts on services, free signage and even hand sanitizer.

There will still be a Small Business Saturday effort this year, but instead of having individual businesses sign up to participate, American Express is focusing on organizations such as chambers of commerce and business associations to sign up as Neighborhood Champions. These supporters are asked to “help bring small businesses and shoppers together this holiday season and beyond.”

The two basic components of the Neighborhood Champion program are outreach to consumers and to small businesses. Championing the Shop Small Movement is intended to promote ways in which the community can safely to support local businesses. Rallying local small businesses is intended to build excitement about the Shop Small Movement among the shop owners.  American Express is supporting these efforts with emailed information, tote bags, stickers, signage and more being sent to the Neighborhood Champion organization for distribution. 

Many of us have enthusiastically participated in Small Business Saturday over the past ten years with special events, promotions and activities – none of which are going to happen this year due to the pandemic.  American Express has wisely shifted its focus from encouraging as much shopping as possible on a single crowded shopping day to asking that Neighborhood Champions “share joy and encourage the community to Shop Small throughout the holiday season and on Small Business Saturday® and beyond.” The Shop Small® Event Kits will include Shop Small-branded merchandise to encourage the community to support small businesses and shop safely rather than material aimed specifically at Small Business Saturday.  

The Shop Small Studio has marketing materials available at no charge to individual businesses for download.  They include signage and marketing materials encouraging customers to support businesses by shopping, liking a social post and leaving a comment, writing a review and recommending the store to a friend. “We need your support now more than ever,” one sign states.  So true!  

Happy Retailing,
Carol “Orange” Schroeder

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