Shop Zen and Local on Small Business Saturday

Shop Zen and Local on Small Business Saturday

You can sleep in this Friday and keep your laptop firmly shut this Monday, because there’s a new shopping day that’s all the rage.

This weekend American Express will sponsor its second annual Small Business Saturday, when shoppers go downtown and support small, local and mom-and-pop shops.

You may not need more reasons to go than the unique stationery at Ann’s gift shop, the handmade chocolates at the itty bitty chocolatier and a colorful stuffed bear from the fair trade shop on the corner, but we have plenty more reasons for you. Here's why we love this idea.

If You’re a Shopper, You'll ...

Boost the Local Economy

If you want your money to go to sprucing up the neighborhood rather than a faraway call center, you’re better off shopping locally. A study done in Grand Rapids, Michigan, by the business research firmCivic Economics found that every $1 million spent at local stores creates $321,000 in additional economic activity in the area. In contrast, $1 million spent at big box stores only generates $188,000 in local economic activity.

Support Local Job Creation

With all this worrying news about the economy, it’s nice to know that you can support it by shopping local, because small businesses are job-creating machines. Businesses of 500 or fewer people account for half of all employment and businesses employing fewer than 50 people create a third of all new jobs.

Every $1 million spent at small businesses generates $119,000 in wages paid to local employees. But that same million spent at a big box store will only create $71,000 in local wages.

Get Some Bucks to Spend

To sweeten the deal even further, American Express is giving its cardholders $25 to spend at locally owned businesses. You can get it one of two ways: by registering your American Express card here or syncing your Foursquare account to your card here.

Find Plenty of Participating Stores

You can use the Small Business Saturday Facebook page to find out who is participating in your zip code. I typed in my hometown zip code of Annapolis and found 50 businesses, including cute clothing stores and even some places to get a hot cup of a coffee or a bite to eat when I’m done. Many stores will have special offers too, so check out their Facebook pages.

Enjoy Your Thanksgiving Weekend

While retailers are opening earlier and earlier (10 p.m. Thanksgiving day in some cases) and arguably taking the fun/laziness out of Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday gives you an excuse to opt out, sleep in and relax.

While you won’t find crazy discounts on Small Business Saturday that places like Best Buy and Walmart have on Black Friday, you'll also get to avoid the mayhem and take the time to enjoy your day out. (This is the upside if our quiz told you that you can’t handle the biggest shopping day of the year.)

If You’re a Small Retail Owner, You'll ...

Reap Higher Sales

Mall retailers who accept the American Express Card saw a 28% increase in sales on last year’s Small Business Saturday compared to the same day the year before.

Have Tech Support

To help you take advantage of the big day, America Express has a whole tool kit for small retailers on its official Small Business Saturday site. You can create in-store signs, get e-marketing materials like logos and email templates, snag free advertising from LinkedIn, and learn how to promote your store using YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

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