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Winter 2014
Small Business. Big Communities! By Becky Tyre

Increasingly aware of the power of shopping small, consumers spent $5.7 billion on Small Business Saturday. Find out how it worked and what you can do to keep the momentum going.

The name “Small Business Saturday” was coined by American Express, but communities across the country have made it their own. What began as a nationwide event to encourage shoppers to spend at local businesses, has evolved into a movement that extends beyond the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday begins its fifth year in 2014 and serves as a reminder to consumers to “shop local” not only during the holidays, but year round. The day is recognized by Congress, endorsed by the SBA and supported by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business. The Department of Commerce officially promotes the day on its calendar, and chambers of commerce and small-business bureaus around the country have adopted the day. Calling small businesses the backbone of the nation’s economy, the SBA says that America’s 28 million small businesses create two out of every three net new private sector jobs, with half of working Americans either owning or working for a small business.

Love thy neighbor!
WhiteHouseTweet-copyWith fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2013, small businesses looking to expand the attention focused on Small Business Saturday banded together as neighbors and communities to get the most out of the shop local initiative during the final quarter of 2013.

Winter Park, FL

ParkAveWinterParkBagsMaps-copyThe Park Avenue Merchants Association included funds in the 2013 budget for promoting Small Business Saturday. In an effort to make this a community event, they began with a mayoral proclamation in May and proceeded to plan a block party for November 30 that included radio ads and production of a video to highlight businesses on Park Avenue. The video began airing on YouTube and social media sites at the beginning of November. The Park Avenue Merchants Association has 105 members and the businesses were listed on a map handed out with tote bags and other promotional items received from American Express.

ParkAveWinterParkMayoralProclamation-copy

Hopewell Junction, NY

CrossroadsGiftShopShopSmallTote-copyThe Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce in New York provided marketing materials from American Express to local stores who signed up to participate in Small Business Saturday. Crossroads Gift Shop in Hopewell Junction, NY, signed up and received a SBS welcome mat, signs and reusable Shop Small shopping bags to hand out to customers. A local news channel visited Crossroads gift shop prior to the event and owner Kathleen Palmeri reports sales up from the same day prior year and attributes part of it to the television coverage and community exposure

Pittsburgh, PA

Offered free parking throughout the city on Small Business Saturday.

Sauk Valley, IL

DistinctiveGardensPoster-copyAttributing much of the success to the Sauk Valley Shop Small grassroots alliance, Laurie Higby LeFevre of Distinctive Gardens in Dixon IL reports an impressive 89% increase in sales on Small Business Saturday for 2013 compared to 2012, making it the biggest sales day of the year. The Sauk Valley Shop Small organization consists of over three dozen businesses, cultural and community groups from three towns. Organizing at the grassroots level and optimizing the power of the national campaign, the local initiative promoted Small Business Saturday, but the campaign lasts all year for this organization.

Customers wear Shop Small Sauk Valley buttons to show support for local businesses to receive a discount or gift. Members combined resources in November to get the word out in local newspapers, radio, billboards and press releases. They partnered with the area cultural community to host artists and musicians to make SBS even more special in 2013. A post-event survey of the organization members show 81% of respondents reporting an increase in foot traffic and sales compared to 2012 SBS numbers.

SaukValleyAd-copy

Television Time

StoryChelseaChalkBoard-copyIn the days leading up to the Nov. 30 SBS date, a number of retailers made the trek to Rockefeller Center in New York for the chance to promote the day by holding SBS signs during the taping of the Today Show on NBC. Ricardo Trillos of Cao Chocolates in Miami, FL, and Bud LeFevre of Distinctive Gardens in Dixon IL (both pictured) left their businesses during the busy holiday season to stand in the cold and it paid off as the images were shared hundreds of times on social media sites.

Television stations showed an increased interest in Small Business Saturday coverage in 2013. The Boulevard at South End store in Charlotte, NC had three on-air interviews in the week leading up to the event. The
co-owners, Jennifer Branham, Angie Regan and Carmen Ellis coordinated with the neighborhood association to provide free trolley service from one end of the neighborhood to the other. They displayed Shop Small balloons to help shoppers spot the store from the trolley stop. Sales for the day were up 40% from SBS in 2012. They attribute some of the awareness to social media efforts with the use of the #shopsmall hashtag and an email blast on the night of 11/29.

TodayShowDistinctiveGardensAndCaoChocolates-copy

American Express chose Story to be its prime New York showplace for Small Business Saturday. Goods from 150 independent business owners filled the 2000 sq. ft. store near Chelsea Market with products made in the U.S. Throughout the day, multiple television camera crews packed into the store to interview store owner, Rachel Shechtman and Small Business Saturday spokesperson, Patricia Norins.

Maintaining Momentum

You can continue the SBS momentum by promoting the shop local message year round. Add signage around your store to remind customers that when they buy from you, they are supporting a local retail business.
GIFT SHOP’s publisher, Patricia Norins, is a national spokesperson for Small Business Saturday and she encourages retailers to regularly remind customers through every possible marketing channel including social media, email, website, and direct mail why it’s important for consumers to shop small. Norins points to three reasons why shopping small is so important—and that retailers can emphasize:

  1. Shopping small helps maintain housing values. In a recent study conducted by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business, housing values were on average 50% or higher in communities with thriving independent businesses.
  2. Shopping small helps keep jobs in the community.
  3. Shopping small ensures that the businesses where customers are shopping will be around for the long term so that as customers they will have more shopping choices.

“There is a growing trend for businesses to partner together to market the ‘shop local’ message as a community and to produce community events around shopping small,” Norins says, “There is a huge opportunity for retailers to continue that momentum and work together throughout the year to maximize their marketing reach, attract new customers to the store and produce events that give customers great reasons to go out and shop small.”

Coral Gables, FL

In South Florida, the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce hosted a full day of Small Business Saturday events with more than 110 participating businesses. With activities throughout the day, all parking fees were waived in the city garages that day.

Doing the Numbers

This year, consumers who were aware of Small Business Saturday reported spending $5.7 billion with independent merchants on the day, an increase of 3.6% from a strong $5.5 billion in 2012.

Consumer awareness of Small Business Saturday across the U.S. jumped to 71 percent from 67 percent during the same period a year ago. Of those aware, 46% said they shopped on Small Business Saturday.

Nationwide, small businesses account for about 54 percent of all U.S. retail sales, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Serial Successes

Small Business Saturday sales were brisk and a mix of holiday décor and many gifts were wrapped for Christmas presents at Pomegranate & Fig in Punta Gorda, FL. Owner, Belinda Campbell, posted this Facebook message late in the day: “Small Business Saturday has come to an end. We THANK everyone who shopped local, ate at a local restaurant, and participated in Small Business Saturday! A BIG thank you to our very patient shoppers who waited for us to wrap all their gifts during the frenzy!”

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Winter Park, Florida

The Park Avenue Merchants Association included funds in the 2013 budget for promoting Small Business Saturday. In an effort to make this a community event, they began with a mayoral proclamation in May and proceeded to plan a block-party for November 30 that included radio ads and production of a video to highlight businesses on Park Avenue. The video began airing on YouTube and social media sites at the beginning of November. The Park Avenue Merchants Association has 105 members and the businesses were listed on a map handed out with tote bags and other promotional items received from American Express.

Hopewell Junction, NY

The Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce in New York provided marketing materials from American Express to local stores who signed up to participate in Small Business Saturday. Crossroads Gift Shop in Hopewell Junction, NY, signed up and received a SBS welcome mat, signs and reusable Shop Small shopping bags to hand out to customers. A local news channel visited Crossroads gift shop prior to the event and owner Kathleen Palmeri reports sales up from the same day prior year and attributes part of it to the television coverage and community exposure.

Pittsburgh, PA

Offered free parking throughout the city on Small Business Saturday.

Coral Gables, FL

In South Florida, the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce hosted a full day of Small Business Saturday events with more than 110 participating businesses. With activities throughout the day, all parking fees were waived in the city garages that day.

Sauk Valley, IL

Attributing much of the success to the Sauk Valley Shop Small grassroots alliance, Laurie Higby LeFevre of Distinctive Gardens in Dixon IL reports an impressive 89% increase in sales on Small Business Saturday for 2013 compared to 2012, making it the biggest sales day of the year. The Sauk Valley Shop Small organization consists of over three dozen businesses, cultural and community groups from three towns. Organizing at the grassroots level and optimizing the power of the national campaign, the local initiative promoted Small Business Saturday, but the campaign is year-round for this organization.

Customers wear Shop Small Sauk Valley buttons to show support for local businesses to receive a discount or gift. Members combined resources in November to get the word out in local newspapers, radio, billboards and press releases. They partnered with the area cultural community to host artists and musicians to make SBS even more special in 2013. A post-event survey of the organization members show 81% of respondents reporting an increase in foot traffic and sales compared to 2012 SBS numbers.

Television time

In the days leading up to the Nov. 30 SBS date, a number of retailers made the trek to Rockefeller Center in New York for the chance to promote the day by holding SBS signs during the taping of the Today Show on NBC. Ricardo Trillos of Cao Chocolates in Miami FL and Bud LeFevre of Distinctive Gardens in Dixon IL (both pictured) left their businesses during the busy holiday season to stand in the cold and it paid off as the images were shared hundreds of times on social media sites.

Television stations showed an increased interest in Small Business Saturday coverage in 2013. The Boulevard at South End store in Charlotte, NC had three on-air interviews in the week leading up to the event. The co-owners, Jennifer Branham, Angie Regan and Carmen Ellis coordinated with the neighborhood association to provide free trolley service from one end of the neighborhood to the other. They displayed Shop Small balloons to help shoppers spot the store from the trolley stop. Sales for the day were up 40% from SBS in 2012. They attribute some of the awareness to social media efforts with the use of the #shopsmall hashtag and an email blast on the night of 11/29.

American Express chose Story to be its prime New York showplace for Small Business Saturday. Goods from 150 independent business owners filled the 2000 sq. ft. store near Chelsea Market with products made in the U.S. Throughout the day, multiple television camera crews packed into the store to interview store owner, Rachel Shechtman and Small Business Saturday spokesperson, Patricia Norins.

Shop local

TheAtticCoronadoCA1-copyThe Attic on Coronado Island in California ordered the American Express Shop Small tote bags and doormat and placed a “Friends don’t let friends shop chain stores on Small Business Saturday” chalkboard sign in front of the shop.


“All three of our stores had busy days on Small Business Saturday, up 8% to 12%!”
—Jeffrey Schrader, co-owner The Ancient Olive stores in Delray Beach, St. Augustine and Winter Park, FL

Poppins of Mackinac Island created a SHOP LOCAL message display out of letter books for sale in the Michigan shop.

PoppinsOnMacKinac-copy

Becky Tyre

Becky Tyre is the senior trends editor for GIFT SHOP Magazine and the owner of the Retail Details blog.




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