I'm not sure who at American Express came up with the idea of Small Business Saturday but that person definitely deserves a raise. In the seven years since its introduction, the event has grown from just a simple marketing promotion into something akin to a national holiday that's now comfortably settled in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday and draws millions of Americans in towns across the country to support their local merchants.
For example, during last weekend's Small Business Saturday, the Montana Book and Toy Company in Helena was "packed with families, children asking for squishable stuffed animals, science kits, books and an assortments of toys that fill the store," according to Pam Sommer, the store's manager, in this report from the Independent Record. "We're seeing a lot of new faces, people from out of town."
The owner of two art and gift stores in Detroit used the day to attract new customers. "This year is 50 percent better than last year. We've been so packed we had to add a second register to our small stores," Andy Linn told the Detroit News. "Small businesses contribute strongly to the economy. If we support our small businesses, we support our extended community and our economy."
Main street shops in Bel Air, Maryland, were busy and business owners were pleased with their town's efforts to promote the day. "It's been absolutely heartwarming how people come out to support small businesses," one shop owner said the Baltimore Sun.
A shop owner in Daytona Beach, Florida, said that because of Small Business Saturday, she saw increased foot traffic and new customers hailing from as far away as Atlanta, North Carolina, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania. An arts nonprofit in Ashville, North Carolina used the day to launch a pop-up highlighting the works of independent artists and vendors. Boston's mayor took the opportunity to announce a new shuttle program aimed at bringing together Main Street shops in different neighborhoods to support small businesses. Merchants in central Kentucky were "booming with holiday shoppers," according to this report from a local television station WKYT with one business owner pointing out that shoppers there were "not just looking for a great deal. They want to support local."
More importantly, the day came at an opportune time to help small businesses that were devastated by Hurricane Harvey earlier this fall. One 10-year-old business near Houston got a much-needed boost in sales thanks to the event. "We were closed for two months. We almost didn't reopen," said Amber Mohr, the owner of Mudpie Co. told Houston's KPRC2 television station. "We're all in this community together so it kind of makes it more like not neighbors, but family."