Biz Features

Small Business Saturday: The Underdogs’ Shopping Holiday

by . November 29th, 2014

With all the hype and hoopla for all those savory discount deals this Black Friday (or is it Black November already?) and Cyber Monday, the Saturday sandwiched in between gets largely ignored. It’s a federally-recognized shopping holiday by the way. And it celebrates small businesses.

Shop Small

Small Business Saturday is a campaign initiated by American Express during 2010. The government recognized the holiday the following year, showing support even from President Obama himself. The holiday encourages consumers to shop in small and local brick and mortar businesses, as opposed to the big retailers or Black Friday and e-commerce sites on Cyber Monday.

It’s something akin to David and Goliath. But this time, the big guy wins.


Artist visualization of small business vs giant retailers (Photo Credit: thefost)

How could they? Giant retailers Walmart, Best Buy and Target would release their Black Friday ads all bright and blithe, with gigantic numbers showing potential savings if consumers would buy this toaster or that baby crib or whatnot.

The initial effect was huge. According to Small Business Saturday initiator American Express, 2013’s event garnered consumer spending of $5.7 billion, a 3.6 percent increase from the previous year.

But this figure is extrapolated from a survey of 1,000 adults by American Express and National Federation of Independent Businesses. And there isn’t a figure of what consumers would spend on this weekend without the promotion so we can’t really measure its impact.

Black November?

And just as Small Business Saturday is gaining traction, the giant retailers upped the ante.

Traditionally, Black Friday sales starts on Friday, sometimes morning, rarely at midnight. In the last few years or so, some retailers started the sale on Thanksgiving Day itself (prompting protests from retail employees), which earned the name “Gray Thursday“.


World War Walmart (Gif credit: World War Z)

Now, Target has three days of Black Friday and Wal-Mart has extended the shopping holiday to a five-day affair. It won’t be long before the whole month of November becomes a shopping month, with discount deals left and right (if they really are discounts or clever market manipulation).

Which leaves you, the small merchant, the entrepreneur of a local business to watch in awe as consumer stampede themselves to get that toaster.

Or you could fight back!


And do it in style! (Photo Credit: hans s)

Small Business Saturday may be just a American Express promotion but the potential is there. Now that the economy has emphasized the importance of the small business entrepreneur and the government itself recognizing the shopping holiday, it’s time to take advantage of it.

Retailers start Black Friday early. Time to do the same. Hold Small Business Saturday on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Make it a longer event. Make it a social media event. Make it a national event. Trend it in Twitter. Post about your participation in your social media pages. Tell your patrons to come in on Saturday for discounts.

The key is awareness. Small Business Saturday is the most under-promoted shopping holiday and a lot of local businesses don’t know about it. Local consumers less so. They would probably dine in some mom and pop restaurant this Saturday and unknowingly participate in a movement.

So the challenge to you this Small Business Saturday is still the same: create awareness, and transform it into sales.

CHECK OUT: 8 Secret Santa Gifts You Will Want To Avoid

What are you doing this Small Business Saturday? Hit us in the comments!


Kevin is a reader first, a writer second, and a gamer somewhere in between. When not rooting for Tyrion Lannister for the Iron Throne, he's probably writing some morbid short story. He enjoys some surreal art, clever advertising campaigns, and a warm cup of coffee while reading Murakami.