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Small Business Saturday equals big returns for local shops

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 18, 2015

 Every year, the Mount Clemens DDA makes sure to do as much as possible to draw shoppers to the city’s downtown for Small Business Saturday.

Every year, the Mount Clemens DDA makes sure to do as much as possible to draw shoppers to the city’s downtown for Small Business Saturday.

Photo provided by the Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority


METRO DETROIT — Michelle Weiss, marketing coordinator for the Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority, said she’s noticed something surprising over the past few years. In her neck of the woods, there seems to be more excitement about the Saturday after Thanksgiving than Black Friday.

“People always tell us while they’re shopping on Small Business Saturday that they mark it on their calendar and they look forward to it every year because they want to do their part,” said Weiss.

Small Business Saturday this year falls on Nov. 28. The national “holiday,” of sorts, was started in 2010 by American Express to encourage shoppers to keep their holiday gift dollars in the community by shopping with local, independent retailers and restaurants instead of larger chain stores.

But now, five years later, the promotion has taken on a life of its own, with shoppers across the country celebrating the hometown initiative by waiting to do their shopping on Small Business Saturday, when their gift-giving bucks will support neighbors’ businesses.

The occasion has really been embraced by chambers of commerce and DDAs. In fact, Weiss said, her group jumped on board with the promotion the very first year.

“We register as a neighborhood campaign, and last week I got my three huge cartons of goodies. They give us a lot of swag to hand out. We’ve got two different styles of shopping bags — one is by designer Steven Alan. We have welcome doormats for each business, handouts, balloons, special buttons, pet bandanas. They really give us a lot, and we give it all out,” she said.

Annette Knowles, executive director of the Farmington DDA, said this will be the third year that Farmington has officially participated in Small Business Saturday. But it hasn’t taken long to ramp up excitement with shoppers and retailers alike.

“It’s a heavy holiday shopping weekend in general, and it’s usually good for our retailers and restaurants. With families coming in for the weekend, it’s a great opportunity to come out and shop or eat and gather and show off the community,” she said.

But an important part of making the occasion work for local retailers is giving shoppers extra incentive to come into the stores that day.

“A lot of it depends on how businesses engage individually,” she said. “Those that take the ball and run with it usually see better results.”

The Farmington DDA is helping businesses downtown do just that with a few extra activities on Small Business Saturday. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., participating retailers will each host an open house with special sales, refreshments, raffles and more.

In addition to that, the DDA will hold a drawing for customers to win special prizes from DDA members. At each participating store, shoppers who spend $20 or more will have the chance to fill out an entry card for a prize drawing that includes great donations from local businesses. Among the loot up for grabs is a manicure and a haircut and style from Merle Norman, a handbag from Tre Sorelle, and gift certificates to Farmington Brewing Co. and Village Shoe Inn, just to name a few.

The Mount Clemens DDA is turning up the heat too with a Secret Shopper promotion. Guests to the downtown area will have the chance to be spotted on the streets by a DDA member in disguise, who will be giving away a special gift to lucky winners.

Weiss said it’s the special incentives like that, paired with the personal service you can only get from independent business owners, that makes Small Business Saturday such a rousing success.

“Historically, it’s always been a great day for us,” she said. “It’s fun to see people walking around downtown and see all the activity. People are in a good mood, and they really do feel good about helping out the stores.”

Do you plan to shop on Small Business Saturday? Find C & G Newspapers on Facebook or on Twitter @candgnews to tell us where you’ll do your holiday spending.