Spread holiday cheer to local businesses Nov. 26

If Black Friday puts you in a “black” mood, and Cyber Monday reminds you of an alien takeover, this is the year to try something new: Small Business Saturday®. Skip the traffic, crowded malls, cranky clerks and tired parents with screaming toddlers in tow. Avoid the stress of Internet transactions and trying to choose the right gift based on a tiny picture on your computer screen.
This year, consider taking a kinder, gentler approach. By shopping at locally-owned small businesses, you can actually give back to your community during the holiday season, and have peace-of-mind at the end of the shopping day.
This Saturday, Nov. 26, is the second go-round for Small Business Saturday, initiated by American Express in 2010, and picked up by a multitude of other businesses and organizations, to promote and preserve the small businesses that create jobs, boost our local economies, and preserve neighborhoods.
This year, Small Business Saturday and the leading social marketers — Facebook, Google, and Twitter.
According to the statistics on The 3/50 Project website, which helps promote small businesses, for every $100 spent in individual brick and mortar stores, $68 stays in the community. The same $100 spent at a big box store only returns $43 to the local community, and money spent online returns nothing to the local community.
“Small Business Saturday is an opportunity to show our support for our friends and neighbors who throughout the year are growing our local economy, as well as supporting many local initiative and organizations,” said Small Business Association administrator Karen Mills. More than 200 advocacy groups have joined the initiative.
American Express noted the program netted a 28 percent increase in sales at participating small businesses in its inaugural year and numbers are expected to improve as social media networks lend their support in greater numbers. Facebook, Google and Twitter have created space for small businesses to share their success stories. The Small Business Saturday page on Facebook had 2.4 million “likes” this week, compared to less than one million last year.
Cinda Baxter, founder of The 3/50 Project, encourages consumers to first look toward their local businesses before they choose to buy.
“It’s not about ‘shop local’ or ‘buy local,’” she added. “The goal is to support all local businesses.”
American Express cardholders can get $25 back on Small Business Saturday as an additional incentive by registering their American Express Cards or by syncing their card to their Foursquare social media account.
American Express spokesman Scott Krugman explained, “You don’t have to take the American Express card to participate in the day. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about a general movement to shop local and make sure that small retailers and local merchants have more business driven to them during the holiday season.”
Small Business Saturday has grown through press coverage and word-of-mouth marketing offline and online. You can contribute to the latter on the campaign’s Facebook Page or on Twitter by using the hashtags #SmallBusinessSaturday and #SmallBizSaturday.
Retailers are encouraged to register their businesses at the Small Business Saturday Facebook page.