Small Business Saturday


Small Business Saturday - What is it and is it too late to get in on the action?

Last Thursday on Facebook I had posted about how I remembered a bit too late that Small Business Saturday is coming up. There was not enough time to plan any major marketing campaign, however, I do want to recognize it, as well as do something with my business, and also help get the word out for other businesses. I was also was thinking that anything I do this year will just put me that much closer to doing something a bit bigger for next year.

I don’t have a storefront or do retail sales (either online or in a brick and mortar store), and to be honest since Small Business Saturday (SBS) is tied to Christmas shopping and retail, I didn’t think that it was for me perhaps you are thinking the same thing. From what I have looked at online it certainly leans towards retail sales but it can be used for other types of small businesses as well.

A Very BRIEF history

Small Business Saturday was started in 2010 by American Express to encourage people to shop small and make purchases at local small businesses. The movement was so successful that in 2011 the Senate passed a resolution in support of the day. Over the years, Small Business Saturday spending has now reached a reported estimate of $103 billion since the day began in 2010 — that's $103 billion over 9 days alone. You can read the full history here.

Why Small Matters

I really cannot write anything more convincing as to why small matters than American Express did on their site so I am going to quote a fairly lengthy piece here.

You might not realize it, but every time you take a yoga class at your neighborhood spot or buy a gift from the local artist down the street, you're shopping small and making a difference.


In fact, for every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., approximately 67 cents stays in the local community. So when you Shop Small on Small Business Saturday—and all year long—it can help add up to a big impact.

2018 SBS Infographic
Source American Express

Despite my original impression that this day was all about retail, I am learning more and more that it is about all small businesses. The first line in the quote is about a yoga class, that is not a retail business like a flower shop, artist gallery, or restaurant, and it helped me recognize how many small businesses are out there and are not retail stores.

How Do I Participate

If you want to participate as a business owner you do not need to sign up anywhere or do anything special. To make the most of the movement surrounding Small Business Saturday there are some tools available to help you, and you can find them here, they are hosted by American Express. You can customize and download some graphics you can use for posters or social media, no you don’t need to have an AMEX to participate, this is from the shop small FAQ.

Do I need to accept AMEX to participate?

No, you do not need to be an American Express® Card Member or accept American Express® Cards to get free downloadable marketing materials in the Shop Small® Studio.


However, qualifying American Express® Card-accepting small businesses get even more. All you need to do is ensure your business is up-to-date. Learn more at

If you play around on that site you can find other information about how to host various types of events like pop-up markets, food festivals, welcome stations, and more. If you are interested in a pop-up market, please be sure to check your local business regulations to see if there are any special requirements, I found this article at Fundera that describes some of the things you need to consider if you want to create a pop-up market.

I understand that all this information is powerful but what can you do in just over two weeks until the event? If you are feeling overwhelmed at the possibilities and frustrated with the short time frame, I feel the same thing, so I keep reminding myself “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”.

Small Business Saturday Ideas
Source Thrive Hive

Even without a lot of lead time, you could do some of these promotions via social media or in person. These ideas may not necessarily be a big boost now but it could help you set up next year's promotion.

  • Discounts to sign up for a news letter
  • Cross promotion with another business
  • Discounts for future purchases
  •   Source Thrive Hive

Big Commerce also suggests using the day to capture emails for mailing lists, creating special packages or experiences, and promoting on social media. While I do not currently utilize Twitter or Instagram if your business does remember to include the hashtags on your posts.

In 2016, there were nearly 250,000 social media posts combined on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #ShopSmall, #SmallBizSat and/or #DineSmall, and more than 150,000 were posted on November 26th alone, so make sure you’re part of those conversations -- and those searches after the day is over.

On Small Business Saturday on November 26, 2016, there were nearly a QUARTER MILLION social media posts with those hashtags, capitalize on that in your posts to amplify your message.

These are the things I can do this year:

Social Media Question Marks
  • I can write a blog about it to generate interest in my business and get my readers thinking about other local small businesses.
  • I can use the marketing resources available on social media since social media does not require any lead time to create physical marketing pieces.
  • I can put a reminder on my calendar for a date in July to start planning for next year.
  • I can shop at local businesses
  • I look at what other local businesses are doing to gain ideas for:
    • examples of things to do
    • examples of possible promotions or discounts
    • what businesses I can contact about doing a cross-promotions

Think about where you can make a purchase the Saturday after Thanksgiving, go buy a coffee or eat lunch at a local deli/restaurant/food truck. Do some shopping at craft fairs, boutiques, or art galleries. Or if you have been thinking about having someone do some work in your yard or house, book that appointment, because the electricians, plumbers, contractors, painters, landscapers are all local businesses as well.

What are your thoughts on Small Business Saturday? Do you participate now? Are you marking your calendar to remind you to participate next year? Leave your comments on my Facebook page and let's discuss your plans.

NOTE: I am not being paid for my mentions of people, articles or books I used above nor do I receive referral compensation. The links I provide are for your convenience only.
DISCLAIMER: This advice is general in nature and not to be taken as personal professional advice. This blog does not provide legal advice if you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.