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On Saturday Shop Small Businesses And Get Rewarded

A movement to shop local for the holidays becomes Small Business Saturday and small stores are offering big incentives to encourage shoppers to spend their dollars locally.

A new day has been added to holiday calendar, but keep reading! It’s a good one.

A year ago, as the U. S. economy was beginning its upturn, small businesses were looking for a way to attract customers, and according to American Express, a supporter of the day, 93 percent of consumers like to support local businesses. Thus was born Small Business Saturday.

“Small businesses are really the lifeblood of the economy,” said Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, senior VP, customer marketing for American Express.

Black Friday, the holiday shopping kickoff was first. Then the Monday following Thanksgiving became Cyber Monday. Now Small Business Saturday encourages  shoppers to hit the sidewalks and support locally owned stores the Saturday after Black Friday. Last year was the first. This year it’s Nov. 26.

Fitzmaurice Reilly said last year was about creating awareness of the day. This year shops are being encouraged to use Facebook and other social networking tools to promote their business. American Express’s Small Business Saturday Facebook page encourages consumers to shop small, and provides tools for businesses to make their own Facebook page, if they don’t already have one.

“What we were able to do on the consumer side last year, and continue to do this year, is to tap into the traffic, the viral nature of the Facebooks of the world,” Fitzmaurice Reilly said. According to a survey conducted by American Express, 89 million people said they plan to shop small on Small Business Saturday.

Rebecca Olson, president of the Webster Groves/Shrewsbury Area Chamber of Commerce, said that small businesses are the backbone of our communities.

"They are the people whose children go to our schools. Studies have shown that more of the dollars spent at small businesses go back into the community than if spent elsewhere.  The big box stores with headquarters elsewhere don't buy their graphic design services, for example, locally. By shopping at small businesses more of your dollars will flow into our community," Olson said.

Olson estimates that 85 percent of the Webster Groves area is made up of small businesses.

She identified just a few of the businesses that are participating in Saturday's event:

will open at 8 a.m. and will offer breakfast treats and 20 percent off.

KIND soap company is giving shoppers 10 percent off all day.

Lady Bug Beads is offering half-price gift cards: Spend $25 and the store will give you $25 off a $50 gift card.

To get things going, American Express is giving the first 10,000 small businesses to make their own Facebook page through the Small Business Saturday Facebook page $100 in Facebook advertising.

For businesses already on Facebook, there’s a program created with the help of Google called My Business Story, which helps a business tell its story on Facebook with a YouTube video.

Patti Guttmann, with the St. Louis office of the U.S. Small Business Administration said the S.B.A. sponsors an entire week, nationally, that promotes small businesses. In St. Louis, the week, Small Business Week of Eastern Missouri, is in May.

Guttmann said of the second annual Small Business Saturday, “hopefully millions of people will be shopping at small businesses on that Saturday. To help them grow is a fantastic thing.”

Patch writer Victoria Siegel contributed information in this article.

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