Don’t want to brave the Black Friday craziness? You can get a head start on your holiday shopping, snag some deals and support local merchants by participating in Small Business Saturday.
Nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is focused on promoting small business owners nationwide. Since it was started in 2010 by American Express, the promotional effort has grown into a national movement involving thousands of businesses, chambers of commerce and economic development organizations. According to American Express, last year more than 100 million people nationwide participated.
“The one thing businesses have told us over and over again is that they need more customers. So we thought it would be great to create a day in the holiday weekend that focuses just on the small business and shopping locally in communities around the country,” said Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, senior vice president at American Express Open.. “That’s how Small Business Saturday got its start.”
Organizations such as the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce and Coral Gables Chamber have turned Small Business Saturday into a communitywide event.
“We decided to participate because in Coral Gables we support our small businesses,” said Mark Trowbridge, president and CEO of the chamber that is participating for the second year. “Coral Gables is an economic engine and our small businesses help to drive that engine.”
American Express cardholders who sign up at shopsmall.com will get a $25 credit on their bill if they make a purchase from a participating business on Small Business Saturday. Participating businesses get free marketing support from American Express via a toolkit on its website.
On Saturday, the Coral Gables Chamber, along with American Express, the Village of Merrick Park and Books & Books will host a day of activities, including a $100 Startup Competition, inspired by the best-selling book by Chris Guillebeau. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to bring their most innovative ideas for a business that can be launched with just $100 (register at http://100dollarstartup.co). Finalists will pitch their startup ideas to the public at the 4 p.m. event, held at Books & Books in Coral Gables; a panel of judges will select the winners.
More than 30 Coral Gables merchants will take part in the day; many will feature discounts. At Klara Chavarria Contemporary Art, for instance, patrons can take advantage of free delivery and installation of any artwork purchased Saturday.
The free toolkit has proven an invaluable resource to business people like Michael Nucci, the marketing associate for Fort Lauderdale-based Bluewater Books and Charts, which sells nautical books to recreational cruisers. “We decided to participate last year and again this year because we thought it would give us an advantage on the sale season,” said Nucci, who will be offering a 15 percent discount on most items he sells on Small Business Saturday. “We got started and used the toolkit to get free posters made and to send out e-mail and social media promotions to attract customers. It’s a great thing for small businesses in this economy.”
In Kendall, the Recycled Closet, a consignment shop for teens, is offering 20 percent off its already discounted clothing. “I’m so glad to see American Express and communities around the nation working to help by dedicating a day to the small business owner,” said owner Jennifer Kaloti.
In Miami Beach, small businesses are embracing Small Business Saturday, said Ana Cecilia Velasco, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. “As we are a tourist destination and get heavy traffic specifically for shopping during this time, it is a natural for us to highlight the event. Small Business Saturday makes sense to us as well because Miami Beach is known for its boutique shops.”
To survive the craziness of the season, consumers may want to treat themselves, too. At Pure Therapy, in the W Hotel on South Beach, customers get a $25 gift card with purchases of $100 or more and items from local designers will be 10 percent off on Saturday. In Bal Harbour, Gee Beauty, one of the only independently owned small businesses in the Bal Harbour Shops, will treat customers to a complimentary Gee Beauty Brow shaping with a purchase of $100 or more.