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Small Business Saturday: Shop Small & Save

By Laura Heller, dealnews contributor

Smack dab between Black Friday and Cyber Monday sits Small Business Saturday, a shopping day intended to help the independent retailers of the world. And after a lifetime covering big box retailers, discount stores, supermarkets, and electronics chains, we're happy to give props to the little guys: the mom and pops shops whose owners put in long hours, lovingly select merchandise, and sometimes struggle to compete with the pricing prowess of places like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy. But Small Business Saturday also offers consumers a unique shopping experience, deals with money-back savings, and a whole lot of good will.

Shopping Small Has Its Rewards

Small Business Saturday is a yearly event that benefits both AmEx's business as well as the smaller businesses who aim to bring the best products to consumers. In an effort to facilitate the exchange of local goods, AmEx offers the first 100,000 shoppers who register their American Express Card and spend $25 or more on Small Business Saturday a $25 credit on their American Express card statement.

Promotions Inspire In-Store Shopping

Small Business Saturday debuted in 2010, and its results were measurable: sales at local shops were up 28% compared to the Saturday after Thanksgiving 2009, according to American Express OPEN. And in 2011, over 100 million people shopped small and locally on Small Business Saturday.

This year, American Express continues to help businesses promote themselves via Facebook ads and through social networking endeavors. Google, Twitter, and YouTube are also giving small businesses access to marketing tools in an effort to help smaller retailers see shares of the busiest shopping holiday weekend.

But it's up to each participating business to determine what kind of specials to offer. And while some will boast an online component — such as free shipping, a percent-off discount, or a gift with purchase — Small Business Saturday is one of those events where even the most devoted Internet shoppers should turn off the computer and head to the actual stores; a big reason why Small Business Saturday exists is to promote the experience the smaller stores offer.

Shopping at the local market, hardware store, or neighborhood boutique, you'll find a friendly atmosphere and a unique, carefully-curated, and often locally-sourced selection of gift items. It's true, even diehard online shoppers like the dealnews staff enjoy a day of perusing the real-life aisles every once and awhile.

Note that this feature has been updated since it was originally published last fall.

Laura Heller is a freelance writer based in Chicago who specializes in mass market retail trends and consumer electronics industries. You can follow her on Twitter @lfheller.

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DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Unless marked as a "Sponsored Deal," the opinions expressed here are those of the author and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the companies mentioned. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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