The Real Effect of Small Business Saturdays in Downtown Michigan
By Alexandra Dailey | November 19, 2022
We all talk about the Hallmark holiday – looking at you, Valentine’s Day – but no one ever talks about the credit card holiday. Maybe that’s because there’s really only one worth noting: American Express’ Small Business Saturday.
Launched in 2010 during the recession, Small Business Saturday takes place the weekend after Thanksgiving as a foil to Black Friday. It encourages small business shopping to support local communities and brings holiday shopping dollars to unique brick-and-mortar stores to keep employees paid, store doors open and downtown shopping districts dynamic.
Recognized by a Senate resolution in 2011, Small Business Saturday continues to grow in popularity as an annual holiday shopping tradition. In 2021 alone, vacation spending in the United States approached $889.3 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, which forecasts sales to increase between 6% and 8% for 2022. American Express reported that for the same year, small business Saturday shopping at independent retailers and restaurants generated an estimated $23.3 billion.
Small in spirit… in the best way
Two communities rolling out the small business welcome wagon on Saturday are Traverse City and Cadillac. While many local businesses rely on the tourist season to stay in the dark, the holiday season is just as crucial to the future and vitality of a shopping district.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our downtown, and we fully support anything that brings more visibility and revenue to these amazing merchants and restaurants,” says Art Bukowski, director of communications and outreach for the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) of Traverse City. “We promote [Small Business Saturday] on social media, but we also work year-round to promote our small businesses, both specifically and generally.
According to Caitlyn Beard, president of the Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce, supporting local stores means supporting everything from football lessons to living expenses to community members who own small businesses. She says much of the money spent locally stays local — 70% of the dollar spent on Cadillac businesses stays in the community, helping small town life thrive.
“Small Business Saturday is essential for our entrepreneurial communities in rural areas,” says Beard. “During a shopping travel season, Small Business Saturday provides high foot traffic and energy. Cadillac area businesses hold sales, scavenger hunts, games, happy hour, accept downtown bucks and really collaborate for the full experience.
She adds, “When you shop at a local Cadillac area store, you are supporting the local economy by supporting the rural community in which you live. This includes supporting area enabled spaces – Cadillac Commons, trailhead, local parks, tree zoo skatepark, sound garden, local schools, etc.
Small steps yield big results
The biggest challenge to small businesses nationwide is online shopping, which is easy and convenient. Adobe Analytics predicts that e-commerce will account for $209.7 billion in holiday spending between November 1 and December 31.
But shopping on Amazon doesn’t include the warm, friendly faces of those you know or an inviting atmosphere decorated to accentuate holiday cheer.
“People like to buy stuff from their friends and neighbors,” Bukowski says. “And our local businesses have worked very hard to provide a top-notch shopping experience with great deals.”
Traverse City and Cadillac retailers will have special offers throughout the weekend. (We recommend checking their respective websites or social media pages for the latest and greatest deals.) Cherry Hill Boutique in Traverse City is one of the participating businesses:
For Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, Cherry Hill is offering 20% off apparel and an additional 20% off, plus a promotion on their Brighton jewelry line.
“Downtown is a destination…people love coming here for lunch, coffee and shopping at all the boutiques,” says owner Annie Hill. “We are very busy [that weekend] and these promotions help keep things going.
In addition to their many stores, Traverse City and Cadillac – and many others in northern Michigan – participate in downtown dollar gift certificate programs, which allow the buyer to support the entire downtown and for the recipient to choose one of their favorite places to hang out.
No matter what you buy, Bukowski simply encourages people to think local.
“We are fortunate that the Traverse City community truly embraces our downtown businesses,” Bukowski says. “That being said, we can never have enough local support! Small businesses live or die on the support of members of their communities. »
November 26 is Small Business Saturday. To learn more, visit americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-small.