Small Business Saturday is important, and not just because it gives American Express card users a $25 credit for shopping locally.
Held the Saturday after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday was started in 2010 as a way to encourage shoppers to not only take advantage of the doorbuster deals at big box stores the day after Thanksgiving, but to spread that love a little closer to home.
But, while the nationwide program functions in conjunction with being an American Express cardholder, C'est Cheese store manager Patrice Anderson suggested it goes beyond that.
"I think most people that come in and do see the signs for Small Business Saturday don't come in because they're using their American Express card," she said. "I think they are coming in becuse they want to support their small businesses."
Donna Lohmeyer, owner of The Shops at 14 Pine Street agreed that Small Business Saturday is more than just a credit card company promotion.
"I think it's a wonderful thing to draw attention, to remind people about Main Street America," she said. "We have a surprising number of customers who shop with us because they want to maintain the integrity of the downtown shopping area."
Still, the perk of signing up starting Nov. 18 for an American Express Small Business Saturday enrollment credit of $25 does not hurt, either.
Lohmeyer said many that came to her store in 2011 did not realize they had needed to sign up prior to get that enrollment credit. "If you don't register online, then the offer is not good," she said.
So, why shop local, on Saturday or any day? "We go out of our way," Lohmeyer said. "Small business people make an effort to know their customers and most customers return the favor."
And promotions like Small Business Saturday have a chain-reaction effect, the business owner said. "Customers mention other stores when they're in here," Lohmeyer said.
In Morristown, perhaps not as much attention is focused on American Express' Small Business Saturday promotion since other, even more local holiday promotions already exist.
Jennifer Wehring, of Morristown Partnership, noted her organization's Gift Greenback program—accepted at nearly 200 Morristown businesses—also provides incentive for people to shop local. For every $50 spent on the "greenbacks," shoppers get an additional $10.
"We encourage people to shop local on Small Business Saturday, and every day," Wehring said.
In light of the extensive damage caused a couple weeks ago by Hurricane Sandy, Anderson said it's more important than ever that customers recognize the importance of keeping their dollars in the community.
"A lot of the small businesses really appreciate the business," she said. "Small towns like Morristown are coming back after the economic downfall. We're really coming around, and I think people are in the mood to shop in town."
When it comes to the Small Business Saturday promotion, "it's not necessarily the little perks—they certainly —it's more that they want to be part of the whole movement. Or, that's what I'd like to believe anyway," Anderson said.