Note: This post is from 2013, but we encourage you to use the tips provided here to find your own Small Business Saturday deals this year!
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year, when we can gather with friends and family to enjoy each other’s company, delicious food, and a change of pace from our typical workweeks. But Thanksgiving has also come to be associated with long shopping trips, unbelievable discounts on merchandise, and shocking confrontations and scandals involving shoppers across the country. There are good deals to be found during the Thanksgiving shopping season, whether on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, and we certainly encourage consumers to take advantage of these savings opportunities if they have researched the products and accounted for them in a holiday budget. But we also want consumers to be aware of an alternative shopping experience, one that is less stressful and helps the community—Small Business Saturday. American Express has sponsored the nationwide shopping event since 2010, and it has been gaining popularity ever since. This year, the event takes place on November 30, and we want to show you the best deals so that it will be an enjoyable (and more affordable) shopping experience.
Free $10 for American Express Users
Have an American Express card? If so, you can get $10 in statement credit if you spend more than $10 at a participating small business. This is a great deal to knock a few dollars off an expensive purchase or to potentially get a free gift for a loved one. Qualifying card holders must register in advance at shopsmall.com in order to be eligible. Registration is limited and will be closed on November 30.
That’s right, 42 communities across the country are offering free parking in downtown shopping areas to encourage participation in Small Business Saturday. This move was sponsored by Patch and American Express and gives consumers one less reason to stay at home. To see a list of participating communities, go here.
Raffles and Giveaways
Small businesses are feeling the pressure to compete against big stores for your business and loyalty. As a result, they are using some of the same tactics as their corporate counterparts. And you can cash in! Look for stores offering raffles or prizes to early-bird customers, watch for storewide sales (like 25% off everything), and be on the lookout for buy one get one deals. Our favorite deal so far is at a business in Wichita, Kansas where the owner is giving away goody bags filled with $25 worth of merchandise to the first 25 customers who come in.
These deals are out there and can earn you some “freebies” which you might even be able to re-use as gifts to friends or family. Use the resources at the end of the article to find deals in your area.
Santa Visits and other Kid-Friendly Activities
Small businesses are also trying to capitalize on kid-friendly activities, providing fun and excitement similar to that which is available at shopping malls. For instance, a Staten Island business is hosting a Santa and cookies event. And in Orlando a garden shop is inviting shoppers and their families to help decorate Christmas trees. These types of activities offer incentive to avoid the malls and can make small business shopping a memorable family experience.
Deals for Small Business Owners
There are deals for business owners too, and they might just make it easier to bring in customers. In partnership with American Express, Twitter is offering $100 in free Twitter Ads to help business promote their deals this holiday season. The deal applies to businesses who have not previously advertised with Twitter and comes with free, helpful tips on how to create engaging ads. Eligible businesses should sign up before December 17. Go here to learn more.
A similar program is being offered through Foursquare. First time advertisers with Foursquare may be eligible to receive a credit worth $50 in Foursquare ads. Go here to learn more.
Best Small Business Saturday Resources
Since the best Small Business Saturday deals vary from community to community, it is difficult to put together a list of them all. Instead, we can provide you with some resources that will help you hunt down the best small business deals in your area.
Patch.com is a website that makes it easy to find out what’s going on in your neighborhood. If your community is listed on Patch, look there to learn about deals.
Chamber of Commerce
Check with your local Chamber of Commerce to learn more about participating businesses and deals in your community. Chambers of Commerce in some cities are offering maps, online listings, and other resources to help plan your day.
The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) has put together a list of participating businesses across the country. It is by no means a comprehensive list, but it might help you.
Local newspaper and television
These are two great ways to hear about special promotions. If businesses are sponsoring special events or amazing deals for Small Business Saturday, then they are probably going to up their advertising too. Check the paper frequently leading up to Saturday.
Like with local news, stay on top of social media for your favorite local businesses too. You might even hear about deals and steals that aren’t being offered elsewhere.
Good Luck and Have Fun
Good luck with your holiday shopping. You don’t have to avoid the big retailers altogether, but some small business shopping might be a nice break from the big crowds and stressful shopping environment. No matter where you shop, be sure to have a solid holiday budget and a gift giving strategy that stays within that budget. Happy Thanksgiving!
What are your plans for Small Business Saturday? Let us know in the comments below!