An alternative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday


The Grand Rapids-based nonprofit Local First promotes a “local living economy” in West Michigan. Photo via

Big sales and long checkout lines are the trademarks of the day after Thanksgiving. Many people love to get a jump-start on their holiday shopping by participating in Black Friday, or skip the crowds and shop online on Cyber Monday. However, in between these two shopping “holidays” is a very important day — Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday was initially created in 2010 as a way to encourage holiday shoppers to visit local, brick-and-mortar stores rather than big-box retailers and e-commerce websites. This year, Small Business Saturday takes place on Nov. 29. This entire day is dedicated to celebrating and supporting small businesses and all they do for our community.

The concept is simple, but the impact is huge. According to a study conducted by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business, consumers spent $5.7 billion at locally owned small businesses during 2013’s Small Business Saturday event. This is a 3.6 percent increase over 2012’s event, and additional growth is expected again this year.

Interested in shopping and dining local this year? The Shop Small Map allows you to search for businesses that are participating throughout West Michigan, and across the country. Additionally, keep track of the #ShopSmall, #smallbizsat, and #smallbusinesssaturday hashtags on Twitter to see the impact shoppers and local retailers are making throughout the day.

If you are a small business owner who wants to participate in Small Business Saturday, more information can be found here. You can register to be on the Shop Small map, print signage and marketing materials to promote the day, and download free online ads to promote your business. Additionally, the U.S. Small Business Administration has created some helpful resources to assist small businesses as they prepare for Saturday’s event, and the entire holiday season.

This year consider skipping the lines on Friday, and instead visit the businesses that have been started, grown, and are operated in your own town. Will you participate in Small Business Saturday? Which local businesses are on your shopping list?

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