Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of Small Business Week, but you’ve probably never heard of it. This weeklong event, established by a proclamation from President John F. Kennedy, has been completely overshadowed by its 12-year-old nephew, Small Business Saturday.  But celebrating the original event has two things to recommend it: it takes place in May, which is not as busy a time of year as Thanksgiving weekend. And instead of just being one day, it’s a week-long celebration.

According to National Day, “the first National Small Business Week was celebrated to honor the top entrepreneurs in every state with awards and special recognition. After this inaugural celebration, the week became an annual practice to encourage other small business owners and enable them to learn from the success stories of the top performers.” It is co-hosted by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and local government agencies.

This year’s Small Business Week will include a virtual summit from May 2-5, available for free to anyone who wants to register.  There will be awards honoring small businesses around the country, educational sessions, online business resources, and keynote speakers.

But even if you don’t want to take part in this event, Small Business Week offers an opportunity for you to educate your community about the importance of independent retailers.  Did you know, for example, that according to the SBA there are 32.5 million small businesses in the US, accounting for 99.9 percent of all businesses across the country? While we need to take into account the fact that the SBA considers any business with fewer than 500 employees “small,” it is still impressive that almost 50% of the private workforce is employed by one of these small businesses.  The retail trade is the third largest industry in this number, after health care and social assistance and the hospitality/restaurant trade.

Small Business Week could be a springboard for similar promotions to those you use for Small Business Saturday (minus the AmEx swag and support, of course).  Shine the spotlight on the oldest independent retailers in your community, as well as the newest. Send out press releases detailing the importance of shopping local to support your community’s small businesses. And engage your customers by finding creative ways to invite them to stop by during Small Business Week – and make them glad they did.

Happy retailing, 

Carol “Orange” Schroeder