Everyone's heard of Black Friday and its kid sister, Cyber Monday. In the name-game of shopping promotions, we now have a new one, Small Business Saturday. All three shopping events fall in November, at the start of the Christmas holiday shopping season.
What is Small Business Saturday?Started in 2010, Small Business Saturday is a national promotion urging customers to buy in local small businesses.
When is Small Business Saturday?Small Business Saturday is scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend. It’s sandwiched between Black Friday, the huge shopping day that starts on Thanksgiving night and Cyber Monday.
What's the Benefit to Consumers of Small Business Saturday?Shoppers can benefit in two important ways by buying locally, according to a spokesperson for mega-financial services company American Express, which, along with the federal Small Business Administration, helped create and promote the Small Business Saturday campaign.
Locally owned stores may not be able to compete with big chain stores such as, for instance, Macy’s on price for every item.
But where they can shine is in terms of customer service, and selection.
“For instance, a parent shopping for their child can go into a local bookstore, where the staff know the kids’ reading lists,” said a spokesperson for American Express interviewed in November 2011. It's true; Brooklyn’s many independent bookstores can and do recommend books that compliment what’s being studied in the classroom at the school down the block.
And, given Brooklyn’s huge number of small creative industries, the selection enjoyed by shoppers — for jewelry, clothing, gift items, housewares items including pottery, art, music, small batch food items, and even toy — simply cannot be matched by the big chain stores, which work on the basis of large inventories.
It's not an either/or proposition of choosing to shop at the big retailers over small stores or vice versa. Rather, say the campaign organizers, it's about "realizing how important small businesses and entrepreneurship are to our local quality of life."
National Grassroots Movement to Support Mom and Pops"Brooklyn has a lot of small businesses with a lot of passionate people," said the American Express spokesperson.
"And our polling shows that over 90% of Americans want to support local small businesses."
That's certainly true of mom-and-pop-proud Brooklyn.
And it's not just a local mentality.
The idea has legs nationally. Even President Obama pointedly shopped on Small Business Saturday 2011. "When the President of the United States shops on Small Business Saturday, the AmEx spokesperson noted, invoking not angels, but impact, "it has a halo effect."
Cyber Marketing the Idea of Shopping Locally To Maintain Vibrant NeighborhoodsOne element of the consumer side of the Small Business Saturday marketing campaign is an online consumer pledge to shop local. Customers are also invited to "like" and join Facebook communities supporting local businesses.
The notion that Brooklynites would make a conscious commitment to supporting local stores, in order to build up the neighborhood, whether that's Bushwick or Sunset Park, is a powerful one. In a way, the idea is radical: that spending power can be wielded by consumers to support vibrant communities.
During the rest of the year, Small Business Saturday morphs into a more general "shop local" campaign, called Shop Small.
If the idea catches on, Brooklyn consumers can expect to see more social media marketing of local small businesses and more aggressive promotions by local shops. This is a good thing for Brooklyn's economy, including jobs.