Small Business Saturday’s Success Puts Indies in Media Spotlight

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In its third year, American Express’ Small Business Saturday (SBS) has established itself as the preeminent national holiday promotion for Main Street businesses.

In the days leading up to the November 24 celebration, in addition to AmEx’s promotion of SBS there has been substantial national and local advertising on TV, radio, and in print from a range of businesses — including Bank of America and Optimum Business — all encouraging consumers to support their locally owned businesses.

“The growing success of Small Business Saturday clearly demonstrates that consumers understand the key role Main Street businesses play in fostering and supporting the economic and cultural health of their communities,” said ABA CEO Oren Teicher. “American Express is to be congratulated for sponsoring this massive national outreach in support of locally owned businesses. Given the very positive message of this promotion — and the extensive national advertising and media coverage of Small Business Saturday — I strongly urge all independent booksellers to participate and to prepare for the expected increase in customer traffic in their stores.”

“Small Business Saturday has become the ceremonial kick-off to the holiday shopping season for small business owners across the country,” said Susan Sobbott, president at American Express OPEN. “Small Business Saturday provides an opportunity to harness the nation’s enthusiasm for small business and to celebrate their impact on local communities and the national economy.” Among those helping to promote SBS are AOL, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Clear Channel, Delta, FedEx, UPS, and Staples.

According to the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, released this week, 67 percent of those surveyed said that they would be shopping at a Main Street business on SBS, up from 44 percent in 2011. In addition, the survey showed that of those consumers who shopped last year on SBS, 70 percent plan to spend more or the same amount this year, for an average of $100.

Interestingly for booksellers, of the top retail categories that consumers planned to shop on SBS, bookstores came in third (29 percent), preceded by clothing stores (34 percent) and gift shops (31 percent). The top two destinations were restaurants (52 percent) and bakeries (35 percent). The survey was conducted between November 7 - 12 by AmEx and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Among the indie booksellers who are preparing to welcome a surge of customers on Small Business Saturday is Linda Barrett Knopp, general manager of Malaprop’s Bookstore & Café in Asheville, North Carolina. Malaprop’s, which is participating in the multi-publisher Thanks for Shopping Indie (TFSI) promotion that starts on Small Business Saturday, will be rewarding customers with a $5 gift card for each TFSI title purchased. The store will be featuring TFSI titles on a big display that will draw customers’ attention as they walk in the door. The “extra” from publishers “helps us offer such a great thanks, and we are using your DIY designs for a special bookmark that we’re putting in the books to identify them to customers and staff,” Barrett Knopp said.

Green Apple Books in San Francisco, California, is also offering customers an added incentive to purchase TFSI titles on Small Business Saturday. With the purchase of a book, customers will be able to choose a free gift: either one of the store’s canvas book bags or one of its ceramic coffee mugs.

“At DDG, we are profoundly thankful for the support of our fellow book lovers in the community, and the opportunity to work with publishers to help sustain the living tradition of literature which brings so much enrichment to our lives,” said Kenny Brechner on the Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers (DDG) website.  “At the advent of this year’s holiday season, independent booksellers and 15 major publishers have worked together to make a special promotion to coincide with Small Business Saturday.” DDG is offering TFSI titles, which will be featured in an in-store display and online, at a 20 percent discount from November 24 - December 1.

To say Thanks for Shopping Indie, starting on Small Business Saturday and running through December 1, Octavia Books “is offering in-store shopping bonuses on an impressive array of 66 favorite independent bookstore titles selected from the 2012 Indie Next picks — inspired recommendations from independent bookstore booksellers everywhere.”

Bellingham, Washington’s Village Books is kicking off Small Business Saturday, a day earlier, on Friday, November 23, with 20 percent off 10 titles “chosen by us, because we love these books and think everyone should read them.” The sale titles will be featured in a display on Village Books’ main floor through Monday, December 24.

For bookstores wanting to participate in SBS, there is a wide range of promotional materials available.