Small Business Saturday and the Sustainable Consumer

General Store 1936, via

Where were you yesterday morning at 4am? Were you camped out and freezing in front of the doors of a big box retailer with 2,000 of your closest friends? Did you leave your Thanksgiving celebration early to make sure that you got the door-busting deals on America’s busiest shopping day of the year? Or were you sleeping soundly because you knew that you’d be visiting local businesses for Small Business Saturday?

In just its second year Small Business Saturday is already making quite an impact on consumers. Over 2 million Facebook followers have pledged to shop at local small businesses on Saturday, November 26, 2011. American Express started this campaign in 2010 to provide advertising materials to local businesses striving to compete with the sales margins of larger stores during the holiday season.


This year Small Business Saturday includes support from Google and Twitter who together with Facebook and American Express have prepared social media tools geared specifically for small businesses in order to assist them with promotions.

Small Business Saturday certainly comes at a time when America’s entrepreneurs are in need of support. US President Barack Obama noted the importance of this campaign in a message to Small Business Saturday supporters. “These businesses create two out of every three new jobs in America, helping spur economic development in communities across our country and giving millions of families and individuals the opportunity to achieve the American dream.” Obama stated.

Surrounded by Black Friday, popularized for more for the fighting that occurs between customers in stores than the deals it offers and Cyber-Monday where online specials require that no in-person contact is made, Small Business Saturday sets itself apart. The lure of a slow shopping experience which includes conversation, personal attention and local craftsmanship is certainly a welcome break in the chaos that is the holiday season.

And that’s not the only perk. In lieu of a door prize, American Express offers its card members (after they register their card for this promotion) a $25 statement credit when they spend $25 or more on Small Business Saturday at any qualifying small business that accepts American Express. This reward for shopping small certainly sounds easier to obtain than standing in line at the crack of dawn to be one of five people who actually luck out and get limited advertised specials.

So how does this effect the world of sustainable textiles and fashion? Certainly it is fantastic that consumer attention is being paid to developing awareness of all the wonderful small local businesses around us. However what happens next Saturday when the campaign is over, the hoopla has passed and small businesses are unable to compete with larger retailers push for big numbers this season?

There are lots of local small business incentive programs like Supportland or even fantastic campaigns run by local Neighborhood Associations to promote the stores that help to keep these smaller retailers in the public eye throughout the year. Business News Daily contributor, Chad Brooks, noted American Express’s claim that in 2010 “merchants saw a 28 percent rise in sales volume …compared to the same day in 2009.” So the numbers are certainly encouraging.

However, HVC wonders if you will be supporting Small Businesses Saturday today? Let us know what local businesses you supported and how you plan to use your $25 credit from American Express?

For more details on this campaign see the video from Small Business Saturday.


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