Small Business Saturday: Highlighting the Value of Local

Small Business Parterning with Merchant Services to Open New Markets

Five years ago, the Small Business Agency (SBA) partnered with American Express (AmEx) to highlight small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Coming on the heels of Black Friday, the single largest shopping day of the year, Small Business Saturday gives local merchants a way to be more visible as they launch the holiday shopping season.


The SBA web site  offers tools, ideas, and print collateral to help merchants tailor their message, strengthen the approach to holiday marketing, and develop specific content for social media.


AmEx, positioning itself as a friend of small business, devotes a substantial portion of its website to listing partners, including Bing, Yelp, EventBrite, and FedEx for 2014. AmEx returns a small rebate to its cardholders on purchases made on Small Business Saturday.


Does it help? According to the SBA and AmEx, the Small Business Saturday initiative generated sales of $5.5 billion in 2013. At the community level, the experience runs the full range from not knowing about it to full participation. A small segment of business with high-end offerings saw little uptick in business because their clientele buys based on need. More common were the businesses that attracted both old and new customers by incorporating a special event or complimentary services. Other successes were generated through publicity in print and digital advertising. Less frequent, but still successful were business banding together either through a merchant association or by physical location to entice customers to visit multiple merchants.


New this year was a partnership between American Express Open and Etsy, the on-line marketplace for handmade and vintage goods. In addition to a trunk show kit to help showcase the Etsy-based vendor, merchants were offered gift card to offset expenses. Over 200 businesses signed up to work with an Etsy member.


Small Business Saturday is a reminder that our economy depends on these community members who share their passion and their time to bring value to all of us.


Next week: Another 2014 first: DineSmall


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