Black Friday may be one of the biggest shopping days of the year, but not everyone wants to hit the mall or big-box stores. No matter how good the deals are.
If you’re not interested in doorbusters or long lines, but still want to get some shopping done during the holiday weekend, Small Business Saturday might be for you.
What is Small Business Saturday?
American Express launched the first Small Business Saturday in 2010 to highlight locally-owned brick and mortar businesses in between the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping frenzy.
Local businesses have trouble competing with big box stores and online retailers in price-cuts, but they benefit their communities by keeping money local, providing jobs and more.
The idea behind SBS and the Shop Small movement that stemmed from it is simple — support independent businesses.
Each year, American Express helps participating businesses with free marketing materials and online promotion.
Which Businesses Participate?
To officially participate in SBS and get the American Express perks, businesses must first accept the credit card for purchases — which excludes a lot of small businesses.
Find participating businesses near you through the American Express Shop Small map.
Small businesses country-wide benefit from the campaign. The SBS buzz reminds shoppers of the benefits of local shops — and, in some cases, reminds them they exist.
Want to know whether your favorite local business will be celebrating this year, even if it’s not participating in the American Express campaign? Ask someone at the store. A nice benefit of a small business is the small staff usually knows what’s going on!
In addition, look for events in your community.
Your local Chamber of Commerce may have information about what’s happening in neighborhoods around your city. Some stores or restaurants host special events — many have sales in the spirit of Black Friday weekend.
“Larimer Square is Denver’s most popular and treasured block,” explains a representative from AILLEA, a beauty retailer on the block. “[It’s] home to a collection of independent retailers, small businesses and chef-driven restaurants.”
In 2015, AILLEA partnered with local groups for a “Shop for A Cause” event to offer residents a way to give back to the community while they shop.
What’s happening near you? Check out your local businesses, Chamber of Commerce and the AmEx Shop Small Map for events and sales in your area.
More Ways to Save and Support Small Businesses
If nothing’s happening in your community, here are a couple more ways to save when you shop local businesses this holiday season.
Look for Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals
In addition to SBS, many small businesses also are offering in-store and online deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Fitlosophy, an Orange County, California–based lifestyle company focused on health and business, launches new products to kick off the holiday season.
“For Black Friday, Fitlosophy launches new black products every year in celebration of the sales — such as the Fitbook black, black protein shaker, etc. in years past,” a Fitlosophy representative told TPH. “Finally, Cyber Monday is celebrated with free shipping promotional codes.”
You might not see products at the doorbuster prices big box retailers are offering, but you’ll likely find better quality and more unique items at local stores.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals could push these items into your price range and give you the chance to support local business.
Lisa Chu of online children’s formalwear company Black N Bianco says, “The key to a successful holiday sale like Black Friday is to stay organized because it’s guaranteed things will get a little hectic …Competition is fierce and in order to stand out from the crowd, I always educate our customers on what items will go up for sale.”
Follow your local businesses online, on social media and in person to get early tips about sales. Use this info to plan your holiday shopping and prepare your budget for Black Friday.
Use Your Cash-Back Credit Card
Increase any savings you find — make purchases with your cash-back rewards credit card.
Because SBS is sponsored by American Express, official participating businesses will accept their cards.
If your favorite local business doesn’t take Amex use the card that will give you the best rewards. If you’re smart about your increased spending to prepare for the holidays, you can stack up a lot of rewards.
Choose your payment methods wisely, and make sure you can pay your bill in full by the end of the month to avoid interest!
Shop Small the Saturday After Thanksgiving
Though they’re often forgotten in the shuffle, your local businesses can offer some great deals for holiday shopping. They also tend to have much more intimate events, a perfect way to connect with your community and get in the holiday spirit!
Your Turn: Do you shop local for the holidays? Will Small Business Saturday events and deals make you more likely to look for local businesses this year?
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Writer’s Digest and more. She’ll probably spend Black Friday working on an elusive essay and eating ALL the leftover green bean casserole.