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Think big, Shop Small

Ben Goldstein on Friday, November 3, 2017 at 11:00:00 am 

Small businesses are the backbone of local economies, and oftentimes are some of the most engaged members of chambers of commerce. Small Business Saturday, which falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, was launched by American Express in 2010, as a way to encourage people to patronize small businesses.

Each year, American Express invites community organizations, businesses and chambers of commerce to pledge to be Neighborhood Champions, and provides them with resources and marketing materials to promote the day.

Here are a few ways chambers are celebrating, and why they’ve made it a priority to do so.

How is the chamber celebrating Small Business Saturday?

Jessica Hart, Billings Chamber (Mont.): “For the past five years, we’ve made a Monopoly board featuring our small business members. Because it’s grown so much since then, we’ve decided to make a checkers board instead for this year. The way it works is people shop at the businesses on the board and return their game pieces to any of the participating businesses. That way they can enter to earn gift cards and prizes from our members.”

Robert Killen, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce (Ore.): “Now that Small Business Saturday is fairly-well established, we’ve decided to launch a full suite of programs throughout the month of November, which we’ve identified here as business development month, like a leadership symposium, some lunch-and-learns and a half-day business conference. We’re also creating a bingo card filled with businesses participating in our downtown region, and once somebody gets five in a row they can turn that into the stores and enter into a raffle for some gift baskets we’ll assemble, too.”

Anna Rainhouse, Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce (N.Y.): “We’re having a kick-off party where we’re giving out goody bags of promotional materials and save-the-date pamphlets for our member businesses. We’re also promoting what we call the “12 Days of Shopping Small,” where we’re using little passports, and anybody who shops locally over the next 12 days can get their passport stamped and return it for prizes and rewards.”

What is the value of celebrating the work that small businesses do?

Jessica Hart (Mont.): “I think that small business is about building your community. Spending your money locally helps your friends and neighbors build something better for your community, so we can keep these businesses open and thriving.”

Robert Killen (Ore.): “Supporting small business is support for an entire community. We know that a dollar spent in a small, locally-owned business largely stays in the community in ways that making purchases any other way simply can’t. The more dollars we retain in a community, the stronger it is for everyone.”

Anna Rainhouse (N.Y.): “The small businesses in our area are really the heart and soul of our economic system in a small town like Watkins Glen, so promoting them and supporting them in any way we can is going to be really beneficial for the whole community.”

This year, ACCE invites members to participate in a contest that highlights Small Business Saturday successes. Tell us how your chamber of commerce is encouraging the community to #ShopSmall. Learn more.

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