small-business-saturday-mark-f-simmonsSmall Business Saturday is a day where consumers are encouraged to shop local, keeping the money in their own community. It takes place on November 30th this year and has been publicized out the wazoo. Some skeptics would have you believe that alongside the trappings of Black Friday (see “Black Friday Is Coming! Wait…It’s Been Here For Weeks. What About Cyber Monday?), #SmallBizSat does not help the local economy as much as you might think.  Critics say it’s simply a “marketing bonanza for American Express.”

Read on to learn my take on this very important initiative.

I’m all for shopping local. I do it whenever I can and when it makes sense. Often it’s not the most convenient, but it does make me feel good about supporting my community. Here in Durham we have an organized movement called Sustain-a-Bull which promotes the support of local, independent businesses. I applaud them for organizing this very important issue. I follow them on Twitter to get updates of the latest happenings. We also have a ton of entrepreneurs that are committed to establishing business here for the long term. In addition to the unique stores, this is readily apparent in the food scene. Durham is already known as a foodie town and it’s the mission of my wife and I to eat at all of the best restaurants! It’s the commitment of the entrepreneur that’s necessary for economies like ours to flourish.



What’s the impact on Main Street

This has been rather hard to follow. Amex offers $10 for $10 spent at a qualified store, but getting the dollars spent is a challenge according to an article in BusinessWeek. The author adds that while small business owners reported an uptick in sales, the numbers escape us. Again, critics point to the fact that Amex charges “industry’s highest” swipe fees reducing the profit local businesses make. I think we can agree that promoting the act of shopping local and spreading that awareness is valuable.

Here’s Amex’s ad:


It’s Always Small Business Saturday For Me

I love Durham. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s a unique community of people from all walks of life. The over-arching sentiment as that we love our city and want to see it flourish. As such, we spend money here. We develop here. We support our city’s growth. Personally, I do this all the time and don’t need this promotion to remind me. I buy Duke apparel from The Duck Shop instead of Dick’s Sporting Goods, I buy my vegetable garden transplants and veggies from The Durham Farmer’s Market instead of Lowes or Home Depot, we grab burgers from Bull City Burger and Brewery instead of Red Robin – you get the point. I love the experience and added service that I get when I shop local and I see no reason not to. Even if it’s more expensive in a number of instances.

Is Small Business Saturday Good For The Local Economy

Absolutely. Despite the participation of corporate sponsors like Amex, Fedex, Facebook and Twitter, there’s still much to gain for the local retailer. The influx of business may be crucial to their survival. The increased exposure is an opportunity to create new, long-term customers and to strengthen the relationships with their existing customer base.

Another video from the Today Show:

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What Can Local Businesses Do To Capitalize?

  • Make liberal use of social media. Tag on to the #SmallBizSat conversation and add value while increasing your exposure. Be everywhere between now and Saturday. Engage using the hashtags below and be sure to follow the official @shopsmall handle.
  • Promote your social media presence. Tell everyone that you’re on social media when they are in your store. Put up signs to encourage following and liking. Use this as an opportunity to grow your audience.
  • Be prepared. Make sure you’re ready for more business. Whatever that means to your business. Make sure that customer service level stays the same or gets more intense. You have one opportunity to make a first impression and a lifetime customer.
  • Capture contact info. Make sure you’re getting emails so that you can send newsletters and run promotions in the future.






To all the small business owners reading this… Make it count! Best of luck for a great Saturday!

More On The Subject

Check out a related articles Does Cyber Monday Have a Limited Shelf Life? and Black Friday Is Coming! Wait…It’s Been Here For Weeks. What About Cyber Monday? for more on the subject.


Please share your experience with Small Business Saturday in the past – whether you’re a SMB owner or a customer.

Yours in success,