HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – If you plan on waiting in a long line after Thanksgiving to snag gift items from a big-box retailer, officials hope you’ll consider using some of the money you saved during Black Friday on purchases at local businesses.
Small Business Saturday, set to launch Nov. 30 – the day after Black Friday, is a program started three years ago by American Express OPEN to encourage shoppers to support small, locally-owned businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
The city of Huntsville and Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County held a joint media conference Wednesday at Harrison Brothers Hardware in downtown Huntsville to raise awareness of the shopping promotion and urge residents to keep their tax dollars in the community.
With sequestration, furloughs and the recent 16-day government shutdown, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said it “makes sense” to make a special effort to shop locally this year.
“When you shop locally, your community benefits, your economy benefits and your neighbors who have jobs benefit,” said Battle, adding that there are approximately 5,000 local businesses in Huntsville.
Karen Corp, gallery and store director for Harrison Brothers Hardware, said she can’t “overemphasize the importance” of financially supporting small businesses.
“I think people are more aware now of the importance of supporting their local companies,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a good season.”
A recent nationwide survey by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business shows up to 67 percent of small business owners plan to offer discounted merchandise and 21 percent will schedule more workers on Small Business Saturday.
Other highlights from the survey are:
- 39 percent of small business owners will collaborate with other small businesses in a community event to promote Small Business Saturday.
- 36 percent will offer coupons for future offers or discounts.
- 33 percent rely on social media most to promote Small Business Saturday to their customers; 18 percent say they will rely primarily on paid advertising.
- 32 percent are starting their holiday promotions earlier than last year.
“Shopping small and shopping local – on Small Business Saturday and every other day of the year – is a great way for people to help their friends and neighbors and create jobs and opportunities in the places where they live,” said Rosemary Elebash, Alabama state director of the NFIB.
On Small Business Saturday, American Express will give a one-time $10 statement credit to card holders who spend $10 or more in a single, in-store transaction. For more details, click here.
American Express OPEN found that 77 percent of shoppers who are aware of Small Business Saturday plan to shop small this year.
Andrea Warr, who runs Bulldog Antiques in Huntsville with her husband, John, said small businesses can’t afford to stay open if customers don’t patronize them.
“You do need to support your community, just like the ads say,” she said. “They won’t be here if you don’t support them.”