If you haven’t already started, it’s time for independent, local and small businesses to get ready for Small Business Saturday. This year, it’s November 28.

Previously on Small Business Saturday

  • In the United States, Small Business Saturday is always the Saturday after Thanksgiving (the fourth Saturday in November).
  • The day is intended to encourage shoppers to include small retailers and merchants in their holiday shopping plans.
  • The event is a promotional response to the Friday after Thanksgiving, a day nicknamed “Black Friday” by retailers to suggest the move from being “in the red” (unprofitable for the year) to being “in the black” (profitable).
  • The term “Black Friday” became so ubiquitous in the retail industry and the media covering the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping, it jumped from being “inside business” jargon to a term major consumer retailers began using for day-after-Thanksgiving promotions featuring deeply discounted “Black Friday” specials.


A Brief History of Small Business Saturday

In 2010, American Express officially created (and has funded enormously ever since) the promotion known as Small Business Saturday. It was inspired by the 3/50 Project (which chose three independent businesses at which to spend $50 each) created by Cinda Baxter, a small business advocate in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

While American Express has the trademark on Small Business Saturday, we’ve never heard of them preventing anyone from joining in the promotion. (Would Hallmark try to go after competitors if it owned the trademark to Mother’s Day?) Besides, who cares that the day serves as a giant public relations bonanza for American Express? We don’t. We think all large corporate marketers who serve the small business market should be so generous with their marketing budgets.

You still have time to prepare.

Many customers start planning their post-Thanksgiving shopping far in advance. Be ready to reach them early and often. Put up signs in-store, stuff fliers in bags, place ads on your website, email your customers: It all helps.

American Express will send you a Shop Small Kit if you get your order into them by 11:59 P.M. EST on November 9, 2015. If your business accepts the American Express card, you can get even more support.

Start thinking of something special to offer your best customers.

While the big box retailers use Black Friday to promote “doorbuster” sales (items so discounted they bring in hordes of shoppers), use Small Business Saturday to reward your best and most loyal customers.

Have you had success with a Small Business Saturday promotion? Share your experience for an update in the coming weeks: email [email protected]


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