Historians hedge on whether the term “Black Friday” originated in 1869 or the 1960s, or whether it was due the sudden death of a store employee named Laurence Black, after working a very long shift. But “Small Business Saturday,’ is an entirely different story. This one was created by American Express, just a year ago, as a way to encourage customers to support small businesses. A purchase of just $25 made at a small business, multiplied exponentially, can make a big difference in keeping small businesses afloat. In a landscape where supersized businesses have the ability and spending power to gain more attention, local and independently owned operations can easily get lost. Yet small businesses are crucial to the economy. Statistics from American Express indicate that small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, creating around 65 percent of new jobs in the past two decades.
Through American Express OPEN, numerous small business advocacy organization, mayors and governors have teamed up to create buzz for Small Business Saturday. Large companies such as Google, FedEx and Facebook are also helping out by providing tools and incentives for customers to support Small Business Saturday. With this help small business owners have the tools to do what large businesses do. They can create Facebook Business Pages, YouTube videos and acquire Twitter followers all in the name of creating the buzz that brings in customers. Last year, statistics from people who used their American Express cards for purchases at small businesses showed a 28 percent increase over the previous year. Of course, it isn’t necessary to use an American Express Card to participate in Small Business Saturday. And really, shopping at local and independently owned businesses should not be done on just one day of the year.