Small Business Saturday – sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday – has grown significantly since American Express came up with the holiday marketing ploy seven years ago. The idea is to attract customers to quaint downtown shopping districts and mom-and-pop shops. For the many who are disillusioned with big box retailers and faceless e-commerce, the notion is an appealing one.
It also can be a unique opportunity to help small businesses promote their brand through clever logoed products. In Emmaus, a small town in southeastern Pennsylvania, 100 area residents had the chance to sign up online for “Shop Small” tote bags, filled with offers and promotional products from participating businesses. On Small Business Saturday, the lucky 100 started their shopping day at the Emmaus Main Street Partners office, a nonprofit incorporated in 1995 to support and revitalize the historic downtown. There, they could enjoy some light refreshments and pick up their tote bag, as well as “Shop Small” pins, balloons and other swag. Then, armed with their coupon-filled tote, shoppers strolled down Main Street, taking advantage of a host of special offers to buy books, jewelry, beauty products and more from their friendly, neighborhood merchants.
According to CNBC, nationwide sales on Small Business Saturday dipped this year, with 108 million shoppers spending $12.9 billion on Nov. 25, as opposed to 112 million shoppers spending more than $15 billion in 2016. Still, merchants in Emmaus were pleased with the foot traffic they saw on the special shopping day. Let’s Play Books, an independent bookstore in the town, reported on its Facebook page that it had a record-breaking day, with hundreds of people stopping by to browse and buy.
Check out the slideshow below to see some of the Small Business Saturday swag distributed in Emmaus.