By Terrence Perkins
If you've not heard about the Small Business Saturday movement, you're missing out. Developed and launched in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
While it only happens once a year with all the bells and whistles — namely advertising and incentives from sponsoring companies like Facebook, American Express, FedEx, Twitter and Clear Channel (according to the event website: shopsmall.com) — small businesses should be actively furthering the local shopping movement year round.
According to Businessweek, consumers who used American Express cards to buy local on Small Business Saturday were even offered a $25 rebate by the company to incentivize participation. It seems like no one really loves big box retail stores — how many idealized film visions of America include a romanticized Wal-Mart? — and yet most consumers shop at them seemingly by default.
When we think of the American Dream, we want two-story houses with white picket fences, radio flyers and Schwinns out front, drug stores and ice cream parlors on main street where they know your name and your order before you even enter the building. The shop small movement is all about bringing awareness to small and local businesses that can't afford the kind of marketing campaigns run by large regional or national competitors.
Small businesses aren't expected to price match their larger competitors but they do have to offer other incentives for customers to choose them over less expensive options. Offering products and knowledge that your community needs in a friendly and enjoyable atmosphere is enough to win over lots of consumers. Offering quality customer service is another.
No matter how many initiatives a big box store puts in place, at the end of the day most of them are staffed with underpaid hourly employees who don't have your best interests at heart. Small businesses offer all of these things and the opportunity to improve quality of life in your community.
By shopping locally, especially with businesses that source products locally, more money stays in the local economy. In fact, the Retail Merchants Association reports that 45 cents of each dollar spent at local businesses is reinvested locally whereas non-local purchases keep, at most, 15 cents in the community. All across the nation, small businesses are working to spread the message that shopping locally is rewarding on a lot of levels all year long.
By signing up to participate, both literally and figuratively, you're committing to improving your customer base (and subsequently, income) and helping other local businesses to do the same. By leveraging the power of the Small Business Saturday machine and working to further the more grassroots year-round campaign to shop small you can educate consumers and remind them to try local businesses first. In the long run, aligning with your local chamber of commerce and treating other local businesses as allies will pay off.
About the author
Terry retired from law and is a legal consultant and notary. He supports
small businesses and encourages all levels of business to embrace cloud
computing as a business solution that makes sense.