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Small Business Saturday to Support Small, Local Businesses

Shopaholics know all about Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and for the fashionistas amongst us, there’s always Fashion’s Night Out to encourage consumers to part with our spending dollars. Now there’s Small Business Saturday, a newly-minted “shopping day” on November 27, 2010, dedicated to supporting local businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the United States.

The problem with the holiday shopping season is that while it is important for all retailers, big or small, small local businesses find it hard to go up against big box retailers. “Though small businesses get a trickle-down effect of people being in the shopping mindset, it’s hard for us to compete with discounting and advertising dollars,” says Rachel Thebault, the owner and head confectioner of New York-based Tribeca Treats. The irony is that for every US$100 spent in locally-owned, independent stores, US$68 of it is returned to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures, yet small businesses are finding it tougher to recover from the recent recession compared to their larger competitors. Small Business Saturday was conceived as an answer – the beginning of a national movement launched by American Express, The 3/50 Project and many other partners to bring attention to small independently owned brick-and-mortar businesses during the shopping season.

The initiative is multi-faceted; small businesses who participate not only receive US$100 in free advertising on Facebook, they can also download promotional materials and social media-sharing tools to promote their businesses, and the first 250,000 American Express card members to pre-register their cards and then spend at least US$25 on Small Business Saturday at a small, independently-owned small business will even receive a US$25 statement credit.

Small Business Saturday is an opportunity to specifically bring attention to independent businesses during this busy time, and the incentives and advertising support provided by larger partners, like American Express and Facebook, can help level the playing field during this important time of year for us,” says Tribeca Treats‘ Thebault.

Small Business Health – A Barometer Of The Economy

“Between big box chain stores and online e-tailers, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have all but elbowed out independent merchants on the most significant spending weekend of the year,” says Cinda Baxter of the 3/50 Project, a grassroots movement that encourages consumers to pick three independent brick-and-mortar businesses and commit US$50 of existing monthly spending on them. “What used to be a life saving weekend has become a tough one to survive for the little guys.”

“A concerted focus on Small Business Saturday gets consumers back in the door with independent merchants, giving them a chance to reconnect with long lost customers and welcome new ones, creating opportunity for growth,” she adds. “Small Business Saturday is just a starting point — not a one time event — to rebuild the connection between shoppers and the local businesses who rely on them.”

Baxter is convinced that the impact of Small Business Saturday on the US economy will be a positive one. “Independent brick-and-mortar businesses pay the highest commercial property tax rates, are the largest US employer, and represent an enormous portion of revenue that returns to a local economy,” she says. “There’s nothing but upside if these businesses thrive…but endless downside if they don’t. A direct connection can be made between our quality of life and the amount of money they return to the community.”

“We lose that, and we lose a lot more than just neat little shops.”

Daniel Goh is the founder and chief editor of Young | Upstarts, as well as an F&B entrepreneur. Daniel has a background in public relations, and is interested in issues in entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, public relations and the online space. He can be reached at daniel [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.

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