‘Mom and Pop’ take center stage
Shoppers take advantage of Small Business Saturday for holiday bargains
Saturday, Nov. 26 is a day to be “small-minded” when it comes to where you spend your money.
It’s Small Business Saturday, a day that “little guys” can call their own and hopefully rely on shoppers who aren’t all tapped out from Black Friday.
Although hitting the mom and pop shops for your holiday needs now seems like a natural thing to do to many folks, shoppers didn’t always make a conscious decision to “shop small.”
Not too long ago, places like boutique shops, antique stores, neighborhood hard- ware stores, bike shops and other small businesses were hurting from a lack of customers during the holiday season.
And so, Small Business Saturday was born in 2010.
Ironically, the post-Thanksgiving anti-mall event was started by a giant corporation, American Express, as a response to Black Friday and, to a lesser extent, Cyber Monday, which had gotten its official start five years earlier.
Although sandwiched between two days of intensive buying, Small Business Saturday has now earned its stripes as a holiday tradition for more nearly 100 million shoppers, according to last year’s estimate by sponsor American Express.
Every year the buzz seems to gain a little more momentum.
In 2011, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution of support for Small Business Saturday.
The following year, governors and mayors in every state, along with President Obama, championed Small Business Saturday.
In 2013, the movement expanded to a Neighborhood Champions chapter, made up of business associations, state and local chambers of commerce and other community organizations who began creating events like street fairs and block parties around the big day to mobilize shoppers and generate enthusiasm.
Local businesses were encouraged to set up popup shops or tables at various spots to sell or promote their wares.
By the time last year’s Small Business Saturday rolled around, nearly 5,000 Neighborhood Champions rallied support for the cause.
American Express took small businesses under its wing in 2014 by helping them promote their businesses with free personalized ads that appeared millions of times all over the Internet.
That year it was estimated that more than $14 billion was spent at small independent shops all over the country.
Last year a record number of “small-minded” shoppers, about 95 million, hit the streets, American Express reported.
For the 2016 campaign, a video on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page gets to the heart of the matter, touting Nov. 26 as “a day to get out and show some love for the people we love and the places we love. The stuff we can’t get anywhere else. Food that tastes like home. Because the money we spend here can help keep our town going.”
Engaging posts range from suggestions for crafty projects — with materials purchased at your local craft store — to photos of confections crafted by customers of California-based Duff’s Cakemix, billed as the “first DIY dessert design studio where the customer is the artist. Your canvases are the famous, pre-baked cakes and cupcakes created by Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman. Your kit comes with colorful buttercream, flexible fondant and tasty toppings. Our studio provides the decorating tools, embellishments and expert guidance, and you of course bring the most important ingredient of all — creativity.”
The Shop Small branded message has now been adopted by all manner of small businesses, from restaurants to fitness studios and salons, making it another day for serious shoppers to look forward to.
Maria Contreras-Sweet, the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, an early and avid supporter of Small Business Saturday, noted that “Small Business Saturday plays a key role in driving customer traffic and growing revenue for our 28 million independent businesses during the important holiday retail season. We’re also encouraging consumers to ‘dine small’ by grabbing a bite at a local eatery..”
Sweet called small business owners and Main Street business “the “fabric of our lives. They have energy and passion for what they do, and when we support small businesses, jobs are created and local communities preserve their unique culture. The SBA provides small business owners with access to counseling services, capital to grow or start their business, and a connection to the federal marketplace and corporate supply chain. More than anything, these entrepreneurs also need customers. Small Business Saturday also provides us an opportunity to honor and celebrate the hardworking men and women that are creating jobs and fueling the economy in their local neighborhoods.”
A map of small business merchants and other information is provided at shopsmall.com.
Malena’s Vintage Boutique in West Chester Reminds people to “Shop Local.” After Black Friday, no matter where you live, a nationwide push by small businesses has started “Shop Local Saturday.”
Barbari Liberati from Ridley Park looks over items in the Seven Stones Gallery on State Street in Media in support of Small Business Saturday in 2014.
Staff member Julia Leister arranges a display of Christmas items at Designed Treasures as part of Small Business Saturday focus in Lower Providence’s Park Ridge Shopping Center in 2015.
Small Business Saturday, founded in 2010, now has a strong branding message.
Janice Atkison checks out a window display at the Wild Lilies Jewelry store as she does some of her holiday shopping in Ambler on Small Business Saturday in 2014.