Small Business Saturday 2013: A Neighborhood Affair

Last year, consumers spent a whopping $5.5 billion on Small Business Saturday. It was a big victory for the movement and for participating independent businesses, but they’re not stopping there.

According to retail expert and Small Business Saturday spokesperson, Patricia Norins, “One hundred million consumers shopped small, and consumer awareness rose to 67 percent.” For this year’s Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30, supporters are aiming even higher. “There’s really a tremendous amount of momentum,” she said.

And they’re recruiting Neighborhood Champions to lend a hand.

Working off the premise that strong community support can give endeavors the push they need to succeed—81 percent of consumers said Small Business Saturday was more effective against the backdrop of community events and engagement—founding member American Express has teamed with influential business organizations to set up Small Business Saturday events in communities across the U.S.

Participating organizations include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. and the Latino Coalition and the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE). With their backing, the Neighborhood Champions program has signed up more than 1,000 participants who are rallying local merchants.

During 2012’s Small Business Saturday, Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, senior vice president at American Express OPEN, noted in company remarks that “thousands of small businesses from around all over the country took ownership of Small Business Saturday and consumers responded. Based on our research, we believe the day can be even more successful when businesses band together to make Small Business Saturday a true celebration for the neighborhoods they support.”

Community Support for Small Business

Community makes all the difference, said Norins. “Consumers go out and want to support Small Business Saturday,” she told Small Business Computing. “They see businesses participating on an individual level,” but the community events and witnessing their neighborhoods participate reeled them in.

“We can’t thrive without the success of our local business leaders,” added Norins. No hyperbole here; according to a study conducted by American Express OPEN and Civic Economics, nearly half of the retail sales in the U.S. occur at independent retailers.

Small businesses aren’t just vital to healthy local economies; they can improve the lives homeowners and even whole neighborhoods. In “communities with thriving independent businesses, housing values are 40 percent higher,” said Norins.

More resources await small business owners at, whether they choose to join their fellow entrepreneurs or to go it alone.

Want to flex your small business marketing muscle? The ShopSmall site will accept your personalized online ads (by Monday, Nov.4) to run on local websites and upcoming versions of, at no cost. You can download printable signage for your storefronts—along with logos, email and social templates to build Small Business Saturday awareness and to catch the eye of shoppers. You can also place orders for free Shop Small welcome mats and reusable tote bags.

To help get shoppers in the door, Norins suggested that business owners “mention their participation to their customers” to build anticipation. The tools provided by ShopSmall make it easier to “do something visual around the store” and add attention-grabbing signage.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the Forums. Join the discussion today!

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