Consumers tend to have a kind of paradoxical regard for Black Friday, when hordes of shoppers swamp America’s malls, department stores and other retailers on the hunt for a bargain but dreading the chaos.
Those without the stomach for the rush can save themselves for the flipside of that weekend in November and do their holiday shopping online instead, on what’s now known as Cyber Monday. But they also have a third option.
Small Business Saturday began in 2010 when American Express founded the initiative to help small businesses get a special kind of exposure during one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year. And the initiative has done what it set out to do. Last year alone, more than 100 million people shopped at independently owned small businesses on that day.
“That day,” Small Business Saturday, is the Saturday after Thanksgiving each year, and it sits between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year, it falls on Nov. 24.
Jeremy Park, the leader of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club who also is a columnist for The Daily News, is emphatic that there can’t be enough initiatives like Small Business Saturday or similar dedicated pushes focused on elevating the attention of the small-business community, both in Memphis and beyond.
His organization is one of many at the vanguard of doing just that in Memphis. Not only does the club spearhead countless service and community-focused efforts, it has a number of pushes including a “buy local” effort aimed at steering more money toward the city’s homegrown ventures.
“My personal thought is if you look at the spectrum of business, we’re blessed to have the full range of small, medium and large here in Memphis, which is powerful,” Park said. “Small business especially is one of the biggest engines for job growth opportunities.
“The other side is obviously the economic driver. On our end, we did the ‘Power of the Dollar’ campaign. When you look at the vast opportunities here, it lifts small business. They can be nimble. They’re entrepreneurs by nature, and it spurs economic development.”
And community development. Examples of local small businesses giving back to the community abound. Madison Automotive, for example, is accepting nominations for deserving individuals, families and charities to receive repairs to their car, truck or van as part of the company’s Christmas Help campaign.
This year Napa Auto Parts has agreed to provide all the parts needed to make the repairs.
Muddy’s Bake Shop, for the month of November, is holding a drive to collect food for the MidSouth Food Bank. Because peanut butter has a long shelf life and mass appeal, when Muddy’s customers bring in a jar of peanut butter to donate in November, they’ll get a free “tomboy” cupcake.
Meanwhile, FedEx is one of the sponsors of Small Business Saturday this year. Last year, more than 500,000 small-business owners leveraged an online tool or promotional materials for the initiative, and 15,000 businesses signed up for free Facebook advertising.
American Express also is offering card members a chance to get a $25 statement credit when they enroll their eligible American Express card and use it to spend $25 or more at eligible businesses on Small Business Saturday.
“These small-business people are our neighbors. They’re going to be there through the good times and bad,” Park said. “They understand they’ve got to go the extra mile, and what you get is that very longstanding customer service-driven relationship to get your service and win your heart.”