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From participating in pop-up markets to offering sales and incentives to customers, there are several different ways businesses can participate in Small Business Saturday. — Getty Images/alexsl

Running a small business means contending with larger companies for consumers’ attention. To raise awareness of mom-and-pop shops everywhere, American Express created Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday, which takes place on November 30 this year, encourages consumers to support local businesses by shopping small. American Express is commemorating the shopping holiday’s 10th anniversary by offering more tools to help businesses succeed, including an interactive retail experience in New York and a guide on the future of small business. The company is also offering a $10,000 grant to 10 small businesses seeking to change the retail landscape.

Founded in 2010, during the height of the Great Recession, Small Business Saturday started out as a way of redirecting holiday shopping to local stores. A decade later, it’s observed in all 50 states, and in 2011, the Senate passed a resolution recognizing Small Business Saturday. The day was such a runaway success that the UK adopted it in 2013, designating it on the first Saturday of December.

And consumers have risen to the occasion. In the last nine years, Americans have spent over $100 billion at small businesses on Small Business Saturday, according to a survey by Main Street America, an organization that revitalizes historic town districts. For every dollar spent on those nine days, an average of $0.67 has stayed in those communities, making $67 billion in revenue.

In the last nine years, Americans have spent over $100 billion at small businesses on Small Business Saturday.

Making the most of Small Business Saturday

As consumers plan to shop locally during the holiday, small business owners can make sure they’re prepared by taking advantage of American Express’s free marketing materials, including posters, emails and social media posts. Since no small business is excluded, there’s no need to register anywhere.

Small businesses are also encouraged to participate in events like pop-up markets or block parties, whether they organize them with other businesses or join existing events. Business owners can advertise the occasion (both in-store and online), hold sales, extend business hours or take advantage of other incentives for customers.

Greenlight Bookstore, an independent bookseller in Brooklyn, will be holding a sale and serving treats at their second location in Prospect Lefferts Gardens on Small Business Saturday. According to Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo, the store’s founder, the holiday is a great way to bring the community together and support the local economy.

“We've seen our customers' awareness of Small Business Saturday grow each year,” Stockton-Bagnulo said. “As a neighborhood business we see the bulk of our Christmas and holiday shopping later in the season — when it's too late to order online for shipping! — so it's nice to have that sales bump earlier in the season.”

As for non-retail or online small businesses, social media and email marketing can bring in new customers. Businesses can use hashtags like #SmallBusinessSaturday and #ShopSmall to get noticed online. Every business, bricks-and-mortar or not, should make sure their websites are up to date and mobile-friendly.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published November 22, 2019