A few years ago, I remember seeing a social media post that read: “Every time you shop from a small business a real person does a happy dance.”
I thought it was so cute, imagining my order notification being the cause of someone’s celebration. And then I became a small business owner myself, freelancing with my writing and photography skills to make ends meet during the height of the pandemic.
When I got inquiries from strangers to book a photo session with their families, or a client showed interest in working on social media strategy together — or finally, when a very cool good news publication (that is also a small business!) hired me as a contractor to help create the monthly Goodnewspaper, it wasn’t just a happy dance. It was a relief dance.
Small business owners rely on customers and clients to pay the bills, put food on the table, and thrive doing work that they are truly passionate about.
The Small Business Administration generally defines a small business as an independently owned, for-profit enterprise that employs 500 or fewer people. While employee and revenue rates vary across industries, small businesses are independently owned and operated and are completely separate from large corporations.
Small businesses in your community might include retail and restaurant offerings like boutiques, bodegas, or bakeries, or tradespeople like artists, barbers, carpenters, or photographers.
The benefits of supporting a small business make a massive impact on your local economy. The benefits of shopping small include community support, excellent and personalized customer service, innovation and creativity, job creation, and a smaller carbon footprint.
So, when you decide to — say, shop for a soy wax candle from your local boutique, or buy all of your girlfriends a bracelet from the same artisan maker every year — you are investing in your community, paying someone’s salary, and taking care of the planet more intentionally than if you were to shop exclusively with big box retailers.
And one of the best excuses to get your reusable tote shopping bags ready? Small Business Saturday, baby.
This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 25. It’s always the Saturday following Thanksgiving, and it’s a great way to use your dollars to shop for the holidays — and invest in the small shops you know and love.
Since there are so many small businesses out there that need your support, we’ve compiled this guide to help you celebrate Small Business Saturday in style this year.
We’ve outlined ways to support your favorites when you don’t have a huge budget, how to find new small businesses to shop, and how to do it all sustainably!
By the way, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.
You might also like: The best good news stories about small businesses
How much do people spend on Small Business Saturday?
Your Small Business Saturday dollars definitely make a difference. Consumers spend over $184 billion on Small Business Saturday, according to a 2023 American Express survey. The holiday season is often a make-or-break time for small business owners, and choosing to support them means keeping the lights on.
Statistics & Facts About Small Business Saturday:
As we shared, supporting small businesses isn’t just good for individuals, it’s a major element to a healthy economy. Here are a few helpful stats and facts that point to the big impact small businesses have on our economy:
- There are over 33 million small businesses currently operating in the U.S.
- Over the past 25 years, small businesses have been responsible for 12.9 million net new jobs, accounting for two out of every three jobs added to the economy.
- In 2021, 51 million shoppers participated in Small Business Saturday, and more than 50% of Americans say they will shop small again this year.
- 67 cents of every dollar spent in a small business stays in the local community.
- 55% of small business owners expect that Small Business Saturday will make up a significant portion to their overall holiday sales this year
- Small businesses donate 250% more than larger businesses to local nonprofits and community causes.
How to Celebrate Small Business Saturday This Year:
Shop local businesses.
The first item on this list is definitely the most obvious, but it’s also a permission slip to treat yo-self.
Make a conscious effort to shop from a local business, even for yourself! Shopping small and local reduces your carbon footprint by cutting the need for shipping and emissions, directly helps members of your community, and often leaves you with some really unique and one-of-a-kind finds.
Not sure where to find some local businesses to shop? Browse a local tourism website or Instagram page, do a deep dive on Yelp, or even ask your friends for a list of their favorite local shops.
Buy gifts from small businesses.
Okay, fine. You should probably spread the love a little, too. Can you challenge yourself to buy a certain percentage of your annual holiday gifts from small businesses?
We’ll help you get started! Many of our gift guides include items from small businesses.
Check a few of them out:
Thoughtful gift guides for every kind of person: Gifts for Animal Lovers | Gifts for National Park Lovers | Gifts for Environmentalists | Gifts for Self-Care | Gifts That Give Back | Sustainable Stocking Stuffers
Buy gift cards from small businesses.
Don’t want to struggle to find the perfect gift for someone? Get a handful of gift cards for a small business! This is always a win for the pickiest people in your circle and still constitutes a great, thoughtful gift.
I mean, who wouldn’t want the equivalent of a handful of free lattes from their favorite local cafe?
Eat at locally owned and operated restaurants.
We get it: sometimes the golden arches beckon us. But if there’s one day a year to pick a locally-owned and operated restaurant over a major chain, it’s Small Business Saturday!
Remember to always tip well and be patient with retail and service workers — but especially on a busy weekend like this one.
Hire a small business or local service provider.
Shopping, dining — and a show! There are other ways to support small businesses outside of a shopping spree. Consider purchasing a voucher for a service like a photo session, nail appointment, or paint-n-sip class. You can even round out your big holiday weekend with a movie at a local indie theater.
There are a variety of ways to support small service providers or gift a unique local experience — get creative!
Host an event with a small business.
Are you hosting the holidays with the whole fam this year? Ditch the kitchen nightmare for a party room at a local restaurant, or hire a local company to cater for your crew.
You could also look into hosting an event at a local rental space, gallery, or retail area for those holiday gatherings (like company parties) this year.
Leave a positive review for a small business you love.
You don’t have to spend any money at all to support a small business. Take some time out of your day to leave a handful of positive reviews for your favorites!
Hop on Google, Facebook, or Yelp and explain what you love about this business and how it’s provided a positive experience for you. It truly makes a difference.
Shop sustainable small businesses.
We’ve already established that shopping small is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Best of all? Shopping a sustainable small business.
A sustainable small business will be very transparent about its sustainability practices, including packaging, recycling and waste management, labor practices, manufacturing materials and methods, and more. Many may also be certified by outside organizations that have audited the methods and materials used to make its products.
Some of our favorite small sustainable small businesses also offer lots of products that help you live a more eco-conscious lifestyle.
Support small businesses that give back.
Small businesses are often mission-driven to give back to certain causes, or were even created to solve a problem or fill a need that ends up helping lots of other people. Spend your dollars and offer your support to small businesses keen on giving back this season.
Support artists and influencers.
We all have a handful of favorite artists or creators we follow online. Chances are, those artists also sell goods like original works, prints, merchandise, and more. Check out the link in their bio to see what they’re offering. Shopping from their stores is a great opportunity to go beyond simply following artists on social media to directly support individuals and communities.
Support businesses owned by historically marginalized groups.
We’ve got to talk about the elephant in the room: Capitalism. No matter how you slice it, the U.S. economy has been built on a racist, hetero-patriarchal system that has long oppressed and marginalized various groups of people. Oof.
LGBTQ+, Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, AAPI, and other people of color-owned businesses should definitely be at the top of your shopping lists.
When you shop businesses owned by historically and intentionally marginalized groups, you help close wealth gaps, celebrate unique and diverse cultures and artistry, create opportunity, and help develop a more just and equitable economy that supports everyone — not just the folks at the top.
Want some help finding diverse businesses? We’ve got you covered!
→ Find Black-owned businesses to support
→ Find LGBTQ+ businesses to support
→ Find AAPI-owned businesses to support
→ Find Indigenous-owned businesses to support
→ Find Hispanic and Latinx businesses to support
Shop directly from a business, instead of through a third-party app or retailer.
Sometimes, a little convenience can make our lives a lot easier, but we have to keep in mind that this convenience might come at a price for others.
Food delivery apps often charge high fees to restaurants. Instead of ordering takeout via Grubhub or DoorDash, order straight from the local restaurant.
Lots of small businesses sell their products via big box stores. Instead of shopping from a small brand on Amazon or Target, simply search for the small brand and place your order directly on their own website.
By doing this, you put more money directly back into the business and keep business owners from paying fees. Go you!
Shop from independent bookstores.
Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, we’re tapping you in.
If you’re seen the classic romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail,” or you’ve shopped at an indie bookstore, you know how intrinsic a local bookstore is to the identity of a community.
These bookstores bring readers together and provide a human element to reading communities that giant retailers simply cannot. We challenge you to trade the two-day shipping for a gift-wrapped book shelved by one of your neighbors and notice the difference.
Take some time to walk through a local bookstore in your community — and maybe even strike up a conversation with the owners to get some amazing personalized book recommendations.
Shop on Etsy.
A goldmine for custom gifts, unique finds, and handmade creations, Etsy is a sellers marketplace where you can find just about anything. Keep an eye out of authentic makers and artists — and not dropshippers.
Search for your next purchase knowing that the money you spend will support an individual artisan or small business — that I’m almost certain will be happy-dancing all season long.
Post about a small business you love on social media.
Another free option for Small Business Saturday is to share your love for your favorites on social media. Make a little guide to your go-to local shops, post a TikTok of the best scores of the season, or share a small business’s promo post to your Instagram Stories.
A simple share, save, or comment can lead to a life-changing sale for a small business owner. (We’re speaking from experience.
Consider cutting ties with Amazon.
Although a lot of small businesses use Amazon (like, over 2 million small businesses) as a way to reach more customers, it’s definitely not the best place to shop small.
Among a long list of criticisms (and a 2023 lawsuit by the FTC!), Amazon has a significant negative impact on the environment, contributes to overconsumption, treats its employees and contractors poorly — and collects data about businesses that sell on its site and then uses that data to create and promote its own competing products.
So, while there’s certainly something to be said for the accessibility of Amazon, you’re much better off supporting a small business directly than by giving Bezos and Jassy a peek at your shopping list.
Start your own small business.
What better way to celebrate Small Business Saturday than by getting the ball in motion to start a small business of your own. Have you been thinking about making the jump, creating unique products, or offering services that align with your skillset?
If the entrepreneurial spirit calls, perhaps you’ll want to take a listen. Start by learning about starting a small business from the Small Business Association!
Get ready for Giving Tuesday.
Supporting small businesses is great, but make sure you stay on track with your budget to show up for Giving Tuesday and prepare to donate to, volunteer with, or spread awareness for your beloved causes and nonprofits.
Frequently Asked Questions:
When is Small Business Saturday?
Small Business Saturday takes place on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. In 2023, it will take place on November 25. The day is dedicated to driving customers to local businesses and embracing positive impacts on employment, economic well-being, and community vitality.
Who invented Small Business Saturday?
In 2010, Small Business Saturday was started as a collaboration between American Express, in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and Roslindale Village Main Street. The next year, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution to honor the holiday in all 50 states.
What is the hashtag for Small Business Saturday?
The official hashtag for Small Business Saturday is #ShopSmall, though many will also use #SmallBusinessSaturday to help promote and identify their businesses during this busy season. Local business associations might also have specific hashtags for their area to help people find small businesses to support in their own communities.
What are some Small Business Saturday quotes?
Here are a few quotes you can use in captions, newsletters, or blog posts for Small Business Saturday:
- “As consumers, we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy.”
— Emma Watson
- “When you buy something made by a person, there is something special there, and you feel it. The consciousness with which a thing is made is often more important than the thing itself.”
— J. Donald Walters
- “We have to keep small businesses healthy in order to keep our economy strong.”
— Keith Haynes
- “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
— Anna Lappe
- “A small business is an amazing way to serve and leave an impact on the world you live in.”
— Nicole Snow
What is the tagline of Small Business Saturday?
American Express and partnering businesses can recognize Small Business Saturday with the slogan: “Shop Small.” Businesses may have stickers, graphics, or other displays that show the official “shop small” insignia.
You might also like:
The header image for this article was illustrated by Good Good Good Art Director Carra Sykes for The Small Business Edition of the Goodnewspaper.