Small Business Saturday gets big attention from local chambers

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 16, 2016

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METRO DETROIT — Don’t be fooled by those warm temperatures and the sunshine we’ve enjoyed well into November. The holidays are sneaking up on us.

And if you’re ready to get into your Santa Claus gear and set out for some holiday shopping, there’s really only one place to start: the great independent stores right next door.

That’s the idea behind Small Business Saturday, the shopping event Nov. 26 sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Launched by American Express six years ago, the tradition has encouraged holiday shoppers to spend gift-giving dollars with local independent retailers, restaurants and businesses as opposed to larger chain stores.

In just a short amount of time, the event has gained major traction with consumers. According to a 2015 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, around 95 million Americans took to local stores on last year’s Small Business Saturday and spent around $162 billion while they were there. That’s an increase of about 14 percent from the year before.

“It’s exciting to see how Small Business Saturday has evolved over the years. When all of us rally to support the small businesses that make our neighborhoods unique, the impact is truly inspiring,” said Elizabeth Rutledge, executive vice president of global advertising and brand management at American Express, in a prepared statement. “This year, we want all kinds of small businesses to get involved — from fitness studios, to cafés, to retail stores and restaurants — so we’ve created even more ways for Americans to participate on Small Business Saturday, whether you’re a night owl or morning person.”

With no intentions of slowing down now, business and chamber of commerce organizations across metro Detroit are gearing up for the biggest Small Business Saturday to date.

Jennifer Boettcher, executive director of the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce, said the businesses in her area have definitely noticed a boost in business in the years since the promotion started.

“We kick off our Small Business Saturday (efforts) with the Santa Claus Parade. And we partner with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to get store mats, decals and marketing materials so that we can help promote it in the community,” Boettcher said. “For us, it’s all about awareness and getting the business to participate, whether it’s a special sale or something to get traffic through the door. It’s also about customers and spreading awareness about the small businesses that really make up a majority of our business district. These businesses employ our neighbors.”

In Oakland County, Executive L. Brooks Patterson has launched a campaign aimed at steering customers toward local businesses with a lucrative incentive.

Seasonal shoppers who snap a photo of their receipt from a purchase at an Oakland County independent retailer could be eligible to win up to $5,000, courtesy of North American Bancard. 

“Unique, independently owned retail stores are a large part of what make our downtowns great,” Patterson said during a press conference held at Modern Natural Baby in downtown Ferndale. “For their success to continue, we need the support of shoppers, especially during the holiday season. Modern Natural Baby is an example of the small businesses that will benefit from Small Business Saturday, which is the big holiday shopping Saturday following Thanksgiving.” 

Participants can submit their photos at AdvantageOakland.com. The randomly drawn first-prize winner will receive $5,000, while the second-place winner will take away $2,000 courtesy of Flagstar Bank. Third place will receive a $500 voucher toward travel on Southwest Airlines at Flint Bishop International Airport, and another winner could take away a $1,000 American Express gift card from CEED Lending. It takes big support to make Small Business Saturday happen.

Complete contest rules, eligibility and the date of the drawing are available online at AdvantageOakland.com/ShopSmall.

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