Scouring for the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals has practically become a holiday tradition, but if you want a different kind of shopping experience that gives back to your own community, there’s another option: Small Business Saturday.
American Express launched Small Business Saturday in 2010, and it has quickly become a new tradition to mark the start of the holiday shopping season.
The day is all about supporting companies in your community — everything from independent bookstores to local crafters to the cafe on the corner, said Nicole Reyhle, a spokesperson for Small Business Saturday.
“Small businesses play a huge role in helping a community thrive all year long,” she said. “When you show support by shopping small, dining at a family restaurant, visiting your favorite yoga studio, you’re making a positive impact. It’s important for consumers to rally around businesses that bring their hometowns to life, add vibrancy and strengthen the economy.”
In the seven years since the first Small Business Saturday, that impact has been noticeable. Within the first few years, elected officials in all 50 states began showing their support and aiding in the effort to highlight local shops, Reyhle said.
Last year, shoppers spent $15.4 billion across the country on Small Business Saturday alone, with 120 million people shopping and dining small.
This year, the eighth annual Small Business Saturday, is expected to be even bigger, as awareness has reached an all-time high at 61 percent, according to a survey released by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express.
“Small businesses truly do bring so much heartbeat to communities nationwide,” Reyhle said. “As consumers become a part of this, they help celebrate the small businesses that truly make our neighborhoods feel like home.”
A day to highlight local businesses can also open people’s eyes to new shops or restaurants they’ve never checked out before — 86 percent of shoppers said the day inspires them to go to new retailers and restaurants, according to that survey.
It also keeps them shopping small, and thus supporting their community — 89 percent of shoppers surveyed said the day encourages them to shop local all year around.
The day is about more than just shopping, though. Reyhle said that Small Business Saturday becomes a celebration for each local community, with different activities, events like pop-up markets for Etsy sellers and local bands providing a soundtrack.
All that helps make Small Business Saturday a unique experience, Reyhle said. While Black Friday is sometimes associated with fights and stampedes in the stressful quest for the best deals, Small Business Saturday is more lighthearted.
“It’s ‘shopertainment,’ and it makes everybody want to go back to a store again and again if they enjoyed the experience and got what they needed or wanted,” she said. “Consumers are able to shop, but also enjoy it and be entertained … that’s not something you can capture in every shopping experience.”
To find local Small Business Saturday events and retailers near you, see a local map at shopsmall.com.