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What is Small Business Saturday? The Black Friday Alternative

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It can be a bit hard to keep track of the days during the holiday season. No, not the days of the week, that’s another issue entirely. Rather it gets confusing what with Black Friday, which really starts on the Thursday of Thanksgiving Day (or earlier), Cyber Monday, even though you’re surely doing most shopping online this year anyway, Giving Tuesday, which is on December 1, Amazon Prime Day(s), which were in October, and on it goes.

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This year, more than any other in recent memory, if there’s one “day” to remember it’s Saturday, November 28, which is known as Small Business Saturday. Because this year, due to the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of thousands of small businesses in the United States have closed down for good (the number was nearing 100,000 out of business as of late September when Yelp conducted a major survey).

Those massive corporations offering so-called “doorbuster” deals (aka loss leaders meant to tempt you into the store or onto the webpage) for Black Friday sales? They don’t need you to survive. Those small businesses hanging on by a thread, though, need you more than ever. This holiday shopping season is quite literally make or break for many small businesses in America.

What Is Small Business Saturday?

This year, Saturday November 28, 2020 Small Business Saturday marks its 10th year. The day was created by American Express back in 2010 with the idea of supporting smaller companies suffering during the ongoing Great Recession that had begun in 2008. One year later, in 2011, the United States Senate passed a resolution officially recognizing the day.

Sure, you can see it as a marketing stunt by AmEx, but if they stood to make money as people used their plastic to shop, the initiative did plenty of good well beyond, and besides, the company puts its money where its mouth is, spending on advertising and social media awareness campaigns and partnering with the National Trust for Historic Preservation as they grew Small Business Saturday.

So what can you do to take part? Just shop for holiday gifts from small businesses this year, and not necessarily just on Small Business Saturday. After all, it’s about the idea here, not the day; it’s not like the mom-and-pop shop on the corner or the Etsy artist can offer you 60% off sales anyway, so when you shop to support the littler guys is less important than that you shop small.

Small Business Saturday vs. Black Friday

And while technically a “small business” in the United States can have up to 500 employees if it’s in the manufacturing or mining sector and up to 100 in other fields, let’s look smaller than that, shall we?

According to American Express’s research looking at business’s with fewer than 100 employees, “62% of U.S. small businesses reported that they need to see consumer spending return to pre-COVID levels by the end of 2020 in order to stay in business.”

Every dollar you spend at a local store or small online vendor this year matters more than ever. It’s not a tall order; you were going to get gifts anyway. Make part of the process giving the gift of a lifeline to a little guy out there.

That being said, it’s okay to shop a mix of both if you can’t afford to only shop smaller businesses. We’ve found clothing sales and Black Friday kitchen deals to get you started.

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Steven John
Steven John is a writer and journalist living just outside New York City, by way of 12 years in Los Angeles, by way of…
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