Photo (cc) by Mark Warner
This weekend is one of the busiest shopping periods of the year, and it’s crammed with made-up holidays – including one you may not have heard of yet, but should.
After Thanksgiving, there’s Black Friday. We all know this one, and like Christmas decorations appearing on shelves, it seems to be creeping closer. This time around some people are joking about “Black Thursday,” since many retailers are set to offer deals through the night or open at the stroke of midnight Friday.
Then there’s Cyber Monday, where after recovering from the frantic shopping weekend, people head back to the office – and then continue shopping on the work computer because the online deals go just as fast. (And while it’s a few weeks off, there’s Free Shipping Day too.)
American Express is intent on bridging the gap between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Last year, they introduced Small Business Saturday to encourage people to shop at locally owned stores. In the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson introduces this new designated shopping day and asks a small business owner what she thinks of it. Watch it, then read on to hear how shopping at small businesses can benefit you.
A survey by American Express found 93 percent of consumers believe shopping at small businesses is important, and they’re putting their money where their mouths are by spending about a third of their discretionary income at local small businesses. Here are a few reasons you should join them by participating in Small Business Saturday this year.
- Get free money. For Amex cardholders, shopping local on Nov. 26 can net a $25 credit on a $25 purchase. Check out the Small Business Saturday Facebook page for details on how and where. (FedEx partnered with American Express to offer 40,000 $25 Amex gift cards to non-Amex customers too, but they ran out in about an hour.)
- Find something different. They often have unique items or services you won’t find in the mass retailers. These can make great gifts.
- Preserve unique places to eat, drink, and shop. That uniqueness can also help create a community character and a sense of place. Think of the reasons you like to travel – it’s probably not because the destinations have another McDonald’s or Walmart. Shopping at these stores helps keep them alive, and encourages new ones.
- Make friends. The service is often much better. More than 20 percent of consumers in the American Express survey listed being greeted by name and getting personal recommendations as the primary reason for shopping small. Local businesses depend on maintaining relationships, unlike the giants who sometimes seem too successful to care.
- Improve the community. Small businesses support the local area with their taxes, by creating jobs, and often by buying from and working with other local companies. Many also support local nonprofits and community groups.
Small Business Saturday is good news for owners too: Besides the benefit of getting extra customers, American Express is offering these freebies for the holiday…
- Free Small Business Saturday posters (to draw in customers seeking the $25 credit)
- 20-percent discount on printing (through FedEx Office)
- $100 worth of free, locally targeted Facebook advertising
- $100 LinkedIn ad credit (although you may have to pay for a LinkedIn account if you don’t have one)
- Help with social media marketing
For more info on these perks, check the “For Your Biz” tab on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page.
Looking for other ways to save on this weekend’s shopping? Look for posts from our deals expert Karla Bowsher, like 3 Ways to Save on Cyber Monday and 3 Tips to Get the Best Prices on Black Friday Right Now.