This new seasonal tradition is giving small businesses the attention they deserve when holiday madness strikes.
Black Friday is a uniquely American tradition. Thanksgiving weekend is well known as the kickoff to the crazy rush of sales that signals the beginning of the holiday shopping season. In the rush of amazing sales and unusual opening times, small businesses unable to afford big advertising pushes or big price drops can often get left out in the late November cold. A newer tradition, Small Business Saturday, recently began to create awareness of local businesses and small shops that need holiday dollars just as much, if not more, than the big box stores.
Small Business Saturday
This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 28th 2015.
Small Business Saturday officially began in 2010. It was conceived as a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Black Friday caters to large, big-box stores that can afford big deals because they buy in bulk. Cyber Money caters to e-commerce sites that can offer big deals because of low overhead costs. Local shops lost out on the big rush of cash these sales bring in to large retailers. Targeting Saturday allows people to take the time to patronize small shops and local retailers during a day off in between the initial push of Friday and the last-minute deals when most people return to work on Monday after the long Thanksgiving weekend.
What do local shops have to offer on Small Business Saturday? Many do offer some deals or discounts since everyone is on the hunt for sales. More importantly, they offer a chance for shoppers to put money directly back into the local economy. Local businesses build a sense of community. Going from small shop to small shop reinforces that idea by showcasing friends and neighbors putting hard work into their dreams of ownership. Not only that, but they offer a great sense of relief from the crushing crowds and holiday madness the weekend usually conjures up.
Both big corporations and government agencies have come together to make Small Business Saturday a reality. American Express championed Small Business Saturday from the beginning, offering signage, marketing materials and giveaways to businesses participating in the idea. The United States Small Business Association also supports the day with ways to get the word out and get your neighborhood involved in supporting businesses looking to participate, in addition to keeping the momentum going throughout the holiday shopping season.
How Your Restaurant Can Take Part in Small Business Saturday
9 out of 10 small businesses are part of the food industry. Restaurants, pub and bars usually have less than 50 employees and need every advantage available to survive. In 2014, Small Business Saturday highlighted restaurants with the #DineSmall hashtag to encourage shoppers to eat at a local restaurant, either during any excursions during the day or in the evening after their packages were placed safely at home. Even just offering clean restrooms during a busy day of retail can make a new customer take notice.
The earlier a restaurant plans for Small Business Saturday, the better off they’ll be. Signage in the restaurant window and mentioning the day on social media will let regular patrons know. The #DineSmall and #SmallBizSat hashtags are already all over Twitter, reaching people who may not already know what businesses are participating in the celebration. Smart small businesses thrive on word of mouth – and social media is the word of mouth of the present and future.
Seek out other small businesses already participating in the day. Stores might recommend restaurants nearby for shoppers looking for a bite to eat. Discounts off bills could be applied for patrons who bring in a receipt from a participating business. Linking these discounts and deals builds a sense of community between small businesses and also encourages patrons to check out every store on a retail block.
Where to #ShopSmall and #DineSmall Near You
If you’re in the Milwaukee area like we are, the Third Ward offers an excellent model for how a neighborhood should come together for Small Business Saturday. Shops, restaurants, bars and other businesses all have some sort of incentive to get returning customers and curious patrons into the Third Ward on November 28th. Even businesses that offer services that aren’t available on the day of are offering gift cards to get customers to return.
In Waukesha, Silver Bells offers more than just a collection of united shops and businesses. The weekend kicks off a festival full of caroling, window displays and other holiday cheer. There’s a parade and even horse-drawn carriages drawing visitors through the snow. The Waukesha Downtown Business Association puts the festivities together every year and incorporated Small Business Saturday as a part of the longer celebration that stretches into December.
But shops all over the country are participating this Saturday, so find out what’s happening in your neighborhood by visiting the #ShopSmall website to search by zip code and find small businesses you can support – or partner with – in your own area. You can also filter your search by type of business to look for both dining and shopping establishments.
Small Business Saturday began as a reaction to big shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It highlights the unique things that only small business can offer their patrons. It has nationwide support of everyone from government agencies to credit card companies. It’s expanded to cover restaurants and other business that support and compliment retail shops. Restaurants looking to take advantage should think about preparing early and coordinating with other small businesses for maximum impact. Neighborhoods all around the US are coming together to back Small Business Saturday. Shoppers that remember to #DineSmall will have a big impact on restaurants across the states.