Small Business Saturday is the black sheep in the November holiday season that’s already cluttered with the infamous Black Friday and Cyber Monday. First observed on November 27, 2010, Small Business Saturday was originally concocted by American Express as a day dedicated to supporting small businesses. It is celebrated every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Though not as well known, it is a rising star nonetheless, gaining momentum through the years. According to the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express, in 2012, Small Business Saturday took in an estimated $5.5 billion in sales. So what has made this semi-hidden gem of a shopping holiday successful, and how can consumers benefit from it?

American Express Statement Credit

These are the four words consumers usually have in mind when Small Business Saturday is mentioned. In order to encourage buyers to shop small and local brick and mortar stores, American Express had been offering a $25 statement credit since 2010 for customers who used their American Express credit card for purchases of $25 or more at small businesses on Small Business Saturday.  This year, however, American Express is only offering a $10 statement credit when you spend a minimum of $10 using your American Express card. If you have 3 American Express cards and charge more than $10 on each card, you’ll get back $30.  It’s basically free money or a big discount on your holiday purchase.

How the program works:

  • Register your personal and/or business American Express card at ShopSmall.com. Prepaid and corporate cards (such as Target’s American Express card) are not eligible. However, you can use a credit card that is part of the American Express network through your bank, such as Citi AAdvantage American Express.
  • You can add authorized card users to your current American Express credit card account. Each authorized user is allowed to earn a $10 statement credit.
  • Registration is limited to a specific number of customers so it is best to sign up as early as possible. Enrollment official begins on November 24, 2013 at 12 AM MST.
  • You can only use your registered American Express card on Small Business Saturday (Saturday, November 30, 2013) at qualifying small business locations listed in ShopSmall.com. Merchants may also have a Small Business Saturday sticker on the outside of their store to let you know they are participating in the program. Small online businesses do not qualify for the American Express statement credit this year.
  • You must spend $10 or more on a single, in-store transaction to qualify for the $10 statement credit.
  • Statement credit will appear on billing statement within 8 weeks after item has been purchased and when American Express has been notified by the merchant of the purchase credit.

If you frequent a small business and cannot find it listed as a qualifying store, ask to see if they have tried registering their store for the program.

Local Businesses, Local Rewards

There is no clear answer to what Small Business Saturday offerings can be. Since small businesses are not large retailers, their sales and promotions vary. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect good deals. Discounts can range from 50% off on select fabric at a fabric store to 10% off products at a local spa. In Las Vegas last year, small business vendors offered 20% off on jewelry with local salons promoting 20% off haircuts. Free gift wrapping or free gift with purchase has also become popular with some stores too.

Small Business Saturday isn’t necessarily all about big discounts either. It’s also about the small rewards that come with shopping local. In some towns, the day is celebrated with a rally that includes treasure hunts, races, giveaways, and parades through a program set up by American Express called Neighborhood Champions, which allows the company to work with business organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA). This year, in the town of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce affiliate plans on giving away $1250 in American Express gift cards to shoppers and diners who come to their downtown on November 30. Check your town center or chamber of commerce for the latest promotions.

Discounts From Bigger Merchants

Small Business Saturday may be the day for small businesses to shine, but that doesn’t mean they are the only ones offering discounts. Some more well-known merchants have hopped onto the bandwagon by promoting customer discounts on items used by small businesses. From now until November 30, National Pen, a company that sells personalized promotional products to 20 countries is offering a 10% off discount with coupon code SMALLBIZ10 on bestselling items from pens, notepads, flashlight keychains, and more. As Small Business Saturday draws closer, expect to see more sales from retailers that sell business or office supplies.

The rise in consumer awareness and support for Small Business Saturday in the US has led to its growing popularity spawning off overseas as well. This year on December 7th, the UK is celebrating its first Small Business Saturday, in hopes of reaping the same benefits.  Support and keep up with the latest Small Business Saturday news by visiting the official website or following their Facebook page.

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About Huong Luu

Huong is a total sucker for cartoons from Batman to SpongeBob Squarepants, yet loves to keep it old school by drowning herself in Jimmy Stewart movies. Harvey anyone?