Small Business Saturday Success

Josie Leavitt - November 28, 2011

This past Saturday American Express sponsored Small Business Saturday for the second time. This is a day when the credit card company encourages people to shop at small businesses by offering a rebate on purchases made with their Amex card. Judging by a 100% increase in our American Express charges, I’d say folks knew about the promotion.
What was so lovely about Saturday was the glee in customers’ faces as I’d ring them up and they’d say, “I’m here for Small Business Saturday. You are my business.” I’d smile back and thank them. It was heartening to see so many new faces on Saturday. People actually thought about what small business to go to and were happy to let us know they’d chosen us.
I think slowly the message is starting to seep in that it’s vital to shop at small businesses. It’s a little sad that American Express doing this promotion has had more of an immediate and positive effect on business than the Shop Local campaign has had. This got me thinking about the power of the message and the size of the voice creating the message.
American Express has had an enormous social media campaign that seems to have reached every shopper in the country. Anyone on Facebook couldn’t have missed it. They made it sound fun and important at the same time. Plus, once you registered your card, there was the lovely rebate awaiting you. I’m not a huge Amex fan, I don’t have one personally and they are expensive for retailers to process, but I loved this promotion. It excited shoppers to spend money and do something good at the same time. This appeared to be a very winning combination on Saturday.
So, my question is: will the Small Business Saturday shoppers realize that everyday should be a Shop Small Business day, even without a rebate? I sure hope so.

9 thoughts on “Small Business Saturday Success

  1. Mike Hurley

    I registered my card and bought 48.00 worth of socks for 23.00!!!!! And I want to thank AMEX for taking the lead and helping small biz promotion all over the USA. They ran ads in our small local paper and I saw them on TV also. It worked here in Belfast Maine!

  2. Catherine Savage

    I think it’s worth noting that the Amex’s strategy behind Small Business Saturday is to get small businesses that do not currently accept Amex to start accepting Amex. And why do many businesses not accept Amex? Because Amex merchant transaction charges are approximately 50% higher than Visa or Mastercard. Don’t be fooled by Amex’s apparent support for small business. They’ve got small business over a barrel.
    If folks really wish to support their local businesses, they’d shop there more often, and they’d pay with cash.

    1. Ellen R

      Small Business Saturday wasn’t terribly exciting here, but Black Friday was booming. Better than I’d expected! Still the Shop Local message is getting through to some. I had a “grammy” in here yesterday with $200 to spend for her grandchildren and her plan was to support locals. She had budgeted $100 for this store and $100 for kids’ clothing at the store across the street. I thanked her profusely!!

    2. Carin Siegfried

      I know that AmEx charges more and so normally I don’t use it – I use my check card as debit as I know that’s the lowest fee. But I did use my AmEx on Small Business Saturday – because really, I’m not going to turn down a free $25, and I spent over $100 at my local independent bookstore, not $25, so hopefully I made up for the fee. But I have since gone back to my check card. I only use the AmEx at big chain stores.

  3. Donna Paz Kaufman

    Let’s keep the momentum going! AMEX will likely continue to promote Small Business Saturdays, but now it’s up to us to be in touch with those customers throughout the year. Indies have a valuable competitive advantage in being locally-owned. Thanks for telling your story, Josie. It is most heart-warming and encouraging.

  4. Christine Taylor-Butler

    To commemorate the day I bought a ton of books at a local indie Bookstore (Yeah Rainy Day books!) and hit a local store that supports fair trade and micro-businesses in foreign countries. And yes – the Amex promotion helped raise awareness. I registered, my husband missed the cutoff, but we still shopped and showed support. (next year we’ll order online at Flying Pig!)
    To heck with Congress and their foot dragging. We, the people, are the stimulus!

  5. Carla Jimenez

    To answer your question, here’s how we can help folks get the message beyond one purchase/one store/one day: SHIFT YOUR SHOPPING is a holiday shop local campaign available to EVERYONE with free graphics and easy steps for helping to spread the word about the economic impact. There is so much info and so many ways to use the simple message that every bookseller or other indie business as well as our customers and friends need to know about this – again, simple, free, happening right now. This si the first ever collaboration between AMIBA, BALLE and more so let’s all help make it successful. Look around the website and the facebook page and get engaged! Visit http://WWW.SHIFTYOURSHOPPING.COM now…

  6. Jeff Milchen

    Josie, re “[SBS has had more of an immediate and positive effect on business than the Shop Local campaign…” I invite you to contact me at the American independent Business Alliance for assistance. No one in the Champlain Valley has contacted us for help, so your impression is not surprising — most buy local campaigns yield little or no impact, but four straight years of survey results have shown dramatic benefit from those done with sufficient sophistication and support over time (see 2010 report:

  7. Pingback: Sizing Up Small Business Saturday « Greenville Small Business Development Center

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