Yep, you heard me. Don’t participate in Small Business Saturday.
This message is not for the fabulous community supporters who frequent small businesses consistently, and understand that neighborhood stores are the backbone of a community. This message is not for the “regulars,” or those who are new to town and immediately want to support their local shops. This edict is not for the newbie who first discovers a local store and understands and appreciates the differences between charming local stores and big box. For you, please DO shop this Saturday, just as you normally would.
This message is for the bargain basement brigade, the lowest price always, what’s in it for me shoppers, those of you who feel so self-satisfied and self-congratulatory that for one day, once a year, you drop a few bucks at a local shop… after you ask what other “specials” and “deals” are offered to you this day.
Just as groupons seldom to never net a small business new, consistent customers, neither does Small Business Saturday.
Here is the thing to understand about corporately sponsored Small Business Saturday. The true reason it exists is for American Express to increase its usage among merchants, and try to strong arm more merchants into accepting American Express. This is a hard sell for small businesses, as each and every penny counts, and American Express charges merchants more to use their cards than any other charge card company.
When the concept of Small Business Saturday started, at least users of American Express would get a credit on their bill for shopping a local business on this designated day. Small merchants liked this, as their regulars would get a nice reward for doing what they already do, and the chance that someone new who understands and appreciates small business could discover a new favorite shop. Once a year shoppers, looking for congratulations and fawning thanks from store owners for their one purchase, were less well liked.
The truth is that those bargain hunters, only concerned about getting the most stuff for the lowest price, are not swayed by fabulous merchandise, amazing customer service, great atmosphere, etc. They are not concerned about supporting their neighborhood and keeping more money locally. They won’t shop small unless they get a Sam’s Club type deal. This year, American Express is offering no customer kick back, so I don’t think the cheapskates will be shopping small. I expect Walmart will be even more crowded than usual tomorrow. Good, yet another reason not to visit.
For the rest of you wonderful small business supporters, go out and enjoy shopping small tomorrow. Know that you are greatly appreciated! There might just be a few special treats awaiting, even if American Express has shown its true colors.