super_shop_smallBack in 2010, American Express launched Small Business Saturday “to help small businesses get more exposure during one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year.” Since then, the shopping “holiday” has gained considerable traction with each passing year. In fact, 2012 was the most successful year yet, with consumers spending $5.5 billion to support their local stores and restaurants.

“Last year, thousands of small businesses from around all over the country took ownership of Small Business Saturday and consumers responded,” said American Express OPEN senior vice president Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly. “Based on our research, we believe the day can be even more successful when businesses band together to make Small Business Saturday a true celebration of the neighborhoods they support.”

To that end, American Express has partnered with dozens of influential business organizations (including the Better Business Bureau, American Independent Business Alliance, and Small Business Advisory Council) to create Neighborhood Champions, a program intended to make Small Business Saturday a community celebration as well as a shopping holiday.

This year, individuals were invited to become Neighborhood Champions by submitting their plans for local activities and events leading up to Small Business Saturday, along with a list of at least 10 neighborhood merchants they would encourage to participate. Registration for this part of the program ended on November 4, with well over 1,000 qualified participants from all over the country. Some of the planned events include:

  • A holiday parade and open house (Golden, CO)
  • A treasure hunt through local businesses (Frazier Park, CA)
  • Pop-up shops at the local farmers market (Koloa, HI)
  • A Shop Small holiday festival, with more than 50 local stores and restaurants participating (Corning, NY)

During each of these events, shoppers will be able to pick up “Shop Small” bags and fill them with the gifts they purchase from participating local merchants.

In addition, small businesses can still become Neighborhood Champions by starting or joining a neighborhood circle on the Mightybell social network. Members of a neighborhood circle can work together to drum up support, plan events, and share ideas for Small Business Saturday.

For more information, check out the Small Business Saturday page at