Big retailers like Walmart, Best Buy and Target may command the headlines on Black Friday, with their $300 laptops and $200 flatscreen TVs and crowds camping out overnight for the best deals. But don't count out the mom-and-pops, who are fighting back with deals of their own on the second-annual Small Business Saturday.
Across the nation, small retailers are armed and ready for what they hope will be their biggest shopping day of the year: Small Business Saturday. Sandwiched between the powerhouse Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday was created by American Express, which offers registered customers a $25 credit if they spend $25 or more on their American Express card at a participating small business on that day. This year, President Obama endorsed Small Business Saturday describing it as a way to "keep our local economies strong and help maintain an American economy that can compete and win in the 21st century."
"Research shows that the holiday season makes up for the bulk of small businesses' yearly sales," says Patricia Norins, an independent consultant and Small Business Saturday shopping expert for American Express. "Right now, retailers are looking for as many ways as possible to drive traffic to their stores." With projections that 90 million consumers will be out shopping this Small Business Saturday, Norins calls this "a huge opportunity."
Norins has talked to small-business owners who are planning everything from balloons and banners to Santas and tree lightings. Many are joining forces to produce shopping maps of participating local businesses or offering cross promotions such as handing out different free cookies at neighboring stores. Norins believes this type of momentum can translate beyond the day to connect customers with local businesses year-round. "Consumers have a huge opportunity to find unique products and personalized customer service," she says. "It instills a sense of community, which is important on a local and national level -- more money stays in the community and more jobs are created."
We talked to eight small retailers nationwide to find out how and why they're going above and beyond to attract shoppers this Small Business Saturday.