American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010 as the U.S. economy was recovering from a recession. In the following year, the Senate passed a resolution in support of Small Business Saturday, and it’s now nationally observed in all 50 states every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
The holiday gains awareness every year as participation continues to grow. Small Business Saturday strategically falls on the weekend when many people begin their holiday shopping. In 2018, spending reached a record high of $17 billion at local restaurants and small businesses on Small Business Saturday. In 2019, that number grew to nearly $20 billion.
Many economists agree that small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy. Did you know small businesses account for 48% of all American jobs? 1.5 million jobs are created by small businesses annually and account for 64% of new jobs created in the U.S.
The effects of COVID-19 hit small businesses hard, rendering nearly a third of them unable to operate. Many went into survival mode and quickly adapted by moving sales online and upgrading their digital methods. As of April 2021, roughly 200,000 small businesses nationwide have permanently closed.
This reality makes supporting small businesses even more critical. Here are seven ways to show support for small businesses on Small Business Saturday.
1. Purchase gift cards
Who doesn’t like gift cards? They’re a foolproof gift for anyone on your shopping list. Gift cards are also a guaranteed sale for a business. Most small businesses now offer gift cards for purchase – either an actual card you can buy in person or a digital version available for purchase online.
While you’re shopping on Small Business Saturday, pick up a gift card (or a few) for yourself or as a gift for a friend, relative or coworker. For a small business, a gift card is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
2. Eat local
Next time you’re wondering about where to go for dinner, try a local restaurant in your area. Use Google or apps like Yelp and Facebook to find local spots near you. If you get a chance to meet the owner, thank them for the meal and their entrepreneurial spirit. A word of encouragement will most likely make their day!
Do you prefer to order takeout or delivery? You can still show support even if you’re not dining in. Simply visit a local restaurant’s website to place an order online or by phone.
3. Shop online
An array of e-commerce platforms has made it possible for small businesses to sell their products online. Now you can shop on social media, as many small businesses have storefronts on Instagram and Facebook. Etsy is a popular site where you can find artisan and handmade gifts like customized artwork, unique embroidery and engraved jewelry.
You don’t have to step inside a local shop to support a small business. Shop from the comfort of your own home and check out some local businesses online as you cross items off your list.
4. Write a positive review
Good reviews are critical to the success of a small business. After making your purchase, be sure to share your experience by leaving a positive review. Google, Yelp and Facebook are common places to rate and review your experience.
Describe the customer service, how you enjoyed or have used the product and recommend it to others. Testimonials from happy customers do wonders as they increase search engine rankings and drive more traffic to the business. If you have a great experience, share the love so others can have a positive experience, too!
5. Post on social media
While you’re sharing positive reviews, don’t neglect the power of a social media post. Most small businesses have at least one social media page to increase awareness about their products and services. Showing support is as easy as snapping a photo of your purchase and tagging the business in your post.
A simple social media post will not only be seen by your friends and followers but will also ping the business’s social account, enabling them to re-share the post, which increases engagement on their page and leads to more customers for the business.
6. Make a plan for Small Business Saturday
This year, Small Business Saturday will be held on November 27. Have your shopping list ready and think ahead for the places you want to visit in person or online. Invite your family or friends to join if you’re shopping in person. Why not make a day of it and grab breakfast or lunch at a local restaurant, too!
Don’t forget to check the hours of operation and location as you plan to maximize Small Business Saturday. Be on the lookout for deals as some businesses may be running specials or promos for the day.
7. Shop small year-round
Last but not least, you don’t need to wait until the Saturday after Thanksgiving to shop small. You can support small businesses year-round. Make it a habit to check out local and online small businesses for your regular shopping needs throughout the year.
If you’re in the Indianapolis area, check out the lineup of small businesses on Mass Ave and go early for a chance to win a swag bag with items for several local retailers. To score some deals from Indianapolis businesses, here’s a list of businesses offering special discounts. The circle city is also offering pop-up markets and entrepreneurship classes on this year’s Small Business Saturday. For black-owned businesses in Indianapolis, visit the Indy Black Owned directory. Support women-owned Indy businesses found on this list here.
For Phoenix residents, visit the Small Business Saturday Pop Up Market which will feature multiple local retailers along with a raffle for locally sourced goodies. To find black-owned businesses in Phoenix, check out this directory found on this Visit Phoenix website. There’s also a multitude of Native-owned businesses across the Southwest and you can search for local businesses through the Rez Rising app and website. To shop women-owned businesses in downtown Phoenix, here’s a list to get you started.
Whether it’s groceries, gifts, restaurants or maintenance services, odds are there’s a small business you can support that will meet your everyday needs. Every time you pay for a product or service from a small business, you are making a difference and shopping small.
We hope these tips are helpful as you plan for Small Business Saturday. This year show your support and intentionally find ways to shop small.
MJ specializes in developing risk management programs for small businesses. If you’re a small business owner, sign up for a free Small Business Consultation today to learn more about steps you can take to better position your business.