It’s time again for Small Business Saturday. 

The event began eleven years ago as a promotion by American Express. Soon it was embraced by local, state, and national small businesses, organizations, and governmental agencies. (See map.)

A brief history of Small Business Saturday

Here are some of the ways that Small Business Saturday has evolved over the last decade.

2010 | Small Business Saturday was created and sponsored by American Express, who registered the URL and registered the trademark for the term Small Business Saturday. The company also created a Facebook page supporting the event and also promoted the event with national television advertising and a broad array of public relations activities. 

As part of the 2010 promotion, the first 10,000 small business owners who signed up to participate received $100 worth of free Facebook advertising, and the first 200,000 American Express cardholders who pledged to use their credit cards on Small Business Saturday to support small businesses received a $25 credit.

2011 | Beginning in 2011, American Express created the  Small Business Saturday Coalition as a means for small business development groups, along with federal, state and location governments and associations, could participate collaboratively.

2013 |In 2013, American Express began to use another trademarked advertising tagline, “Shop Small,” in its Small Business Saturday promotions. The tagline enables the company to extend the marketing efforts surrounding Small Business Saturday into other parts of the year.

2014 | A new promotional aspect of 2014 included an interactive map for participating businesses that accept American Express cards. 

2015 | In 2015, American Express produced and ran TV and online commercials promoting Small Business Saturday featuring the Muppets.

2018 |
An estimated 104 million American consumers supported local retailers and restaurants, spending $17.8 billion on Small Business Saturday 2018, according to American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)

2019 | Small Business Saturday celebrates its tenth anniversary with a new spokesperson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the Broadway musical Hamilton and Karlie Kloss, model and entrepreneur.

2020 | While American Express has shifted its small business messaging to a year-round emphasis using its “Shop Small” message, the need to support small businesses has become (especially during the pandemic) a rallying cry to shoppers and sellers to Shop Small — on Small Business Saturday

Look for small businesses online, as well.


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