November 30, 2019 marks the tenth year of the Small Business Saturday® celebration. But although it falls between the insanity of Black Friday and the sloth of Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is more than a mere “holiday shopping” day. It’s a day when entire neighborhoods rally together to show their support for local businesses in their area.

Since its debut in 2010, Small Business Saturday has gained momentum with each passing year. In fact, 2018 was the most successful year yet, with 104 million shoppers across the U.S. spending a record high $17.8 billion. But more than that, Small Business Saturday has been successful in changing the hearts and minds of consumers, persuading 96% of them to Shop Small all year round.

Getting Geared Up for Small Business Saturday

But just how does a small business owner participate in Small Business Saturday? That’s a good question, and we’re glad you asked.

Here are some steps you can take to get your business ready for the big day of shopping small.

Get the Word Out

This one may seem a bit daunting, but fortunately American Express has already done most of the heavy lifting. Their Shop Small Studio offers posters, social posts, and an email template that you can download *for free* and customize for your business.

Plan a Special Event or Promotion

There may be quite a bit of competition for customers on Small Business Saturday, so make an effort to set yourself apart. Here are just a few tips and ideas:

  • Feed your shoppers. Provide them with coffee in the morning to help them start their day or popcorn in the afternoon to tide them over until dinner. If you’re feeling particularly extravagant, you might up your free food game by providing donuts, cookies or cupcakes.
  • Invite local artists to attract customers and keep them entertained with singing, face painting or caricature portraits.
  • Consider offering some discounts (or even giveaways) to draw folks in. Let them know you’ll be offering free consultations between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. or that every purchase over $15 comes with a free goodie bag. By limiting the time of the offer and/or the number of items available, you can build anticipation and a sense of urgency.
  • Organize a raffle. Not only is this a great way to bring in customers, it will also give you the opportunity to collect some contact info and build up your customer list.
  • Set up a table or booth outside your store so you can engage folks as they pass by. This can be a great opportunity to hand out pamphlets and other sales materials or to simply highlight your wares.

Just one quick caveat: When coming up with a special event or promotion, avoid the temptation of slashing your prices to compete with the major chains. People shop locally because they’re looking for exemplary service and a unique customer experience, not deep discounts. You’ll get so much more out of Small Business Saturday if you focus on your customers instead of your prices.

Team Up with Your Community

There are hundreds of organizations out there working with local businesses to make Small Business Saturday a success. To find one of these Neighborhood Champions in your neck of the woods, visit the Shop Small Rally List.

These are just some of the ways your business can participate in Small Business Saturday on November 30. If you’re looking for more ideas or if you’d just like more info, check out the Shop Small page at