With Thanksgiving now just around the corner, you may already be thinking about what deals to take advantage of on Black Friday. That is certainly prudent, with the nation’s biggest shopping event providing the perfect opportunity to make real savings on your holiday-season and indeed year-round purchases, provided you spend wisely. But whilst it is well-worth visiting big chains for their ‘door-buster deals’ on Black Friday, be sure that you don’t overlook Small Business Saturday.

The shopping holiday was founded in 2010 as a direct response to the growth in popularity of Black Friday, with American Express, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and then-Mayor of Boston Thomas M. Menino all playing a leading role in its development. The intention was to incentivise customers to shop at smaller, local stores and businesses, particularly those on main streets in towns and cities across the United States.

Although the involvement of financial services giant American Express, which has registered the trademark for Small Business Saturday, has raised some questions, the company has undeniably played an important role in publicising the holiday. Indeed, Amex has invested considerable funds in spreading the word about Small Business Saturday and continues to offer its customers rewards for shopping locally after Thanksgiving, both in the United States and abroad.

But what are the benefits of supporting small businesses in your local area? It’s often repeated that money spent in local businesses is more likely to stay in circulation in the local area than when spent at larger chain stores, but it is worth remembering all the same. Particularly as the difference is significant, with estimates suggesting that on average for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 will stay in circulation in the local area, a figure that drops to just $43 per $100 spent at national chains.

In fact, the importance of small businesses to local economies was recognised by the Senate which, with the approval of the president, passed a resolution in support of Small Business Saturday in 2011. But there are other reasons to make sure you support small businesses than just the value they add to the local economy. For one thing, the small brick-and-mortar businesses on your main street are a vital part of what gives your area the diversity and uniqueness that makes it truly yours.

And because the location of most independent businesses is on a main street, you can also help the environment by shopping locally. Rather than driving to an outlet mall on the edge of town, shopping locally gives you the chance to travel by foot or perhaps bicycle. That not only helps the environment, but also allows you to really take in your surroundings and savour the shopping experience with friends or family.

How to take advantage of Small Business Saturday

Although there are many advantages to shopping at small local businesses, it is often less convenient than going to a store that is part of a national chain. Fortunately, with Small Business Saturday one of the most important days of the year for owners of smaller, local businesses, it is never easier to find the best deals in your local area than on the last Saturday in November. Be sure to do your research ahead of time and you are almost certain to be rewarded with great deals.

Social media can be a great way to find out about those deals. The days when only the biggest companies had an active presence on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are long gone. So check out the social media pages of your favorite local businesses ahead of Small Business Saturday to find out what offers are available. Or if you prefer a more traditional approach, call or visit in person. Customer service is of vital importance to smaller businesses, so you can expect your enquiries to be dealt with quickly and in a friendly manner.

Amex has encouraged local people to get involved, with over 7,500 consumers registering as ‘neighbourhood champions’ in 2018. They have helped spread the word about Small Business Saturday, holding events and putting on activities to encourage friends and neighbors to take advantage of the holiday by heading down to their main street and shopping at local businesses. Keep an eye out for your ‘neighbourhood champion’ or if there isn’t one in your area, you could even consider taking on the role yourself.

But whether you want to take a hands on role on Small Business Saturday or not, make sure you don’t miss out on the chance to explore everything that the independent and local businesses in your area have on offer. Not only will you be helping to ensure your area remains diverse and economically vibrant, you will more than likely be able to enjoy a wide range of products, services and expertise that national chains likely will not be able to match. So this Saturday, don’t hesitate to take full advantage of Small Business Saturday.



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