Time to plan ‘Small’ event

This past weekend was one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year, featuring both Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Black Friday has for decades been the day in which many retailers finally go “into the black” for the year, meaning they finally show a profit thanks to the Christmas shopping season.

Small Business Saturday is a newer phenomenon, having been started in 2010 by credit company American Express and Roslindale Village in Massachusetts and may still not be on many local shoppers’ radar, despite advertisements and news stories publicizing the event.

Fulton Montgomery Regional Chairman of Commerce Mark Kilmer even wrote about Small Business Saturday for the Chamber column in the Nov. 20 Sunday Leader-Herald.

Nationally, Small Business Saturday was a big success, according to the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, released Monday by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express.

According to the survey, an estimated 112 million consumers reported shopping at small businesses on Small Business Saturday, a 13 percent increase from 2015.

But locally, results seem to have been mixed, with some businesses interviewed by The Leader-Herald saying sales were strong, while others saying they had more of a sleepy Saturday than a booming retail event.

The Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey gives some clues for what could make Small Business Saturday a bigger event locally.  According to the survey,  32 percent of shoppers reported attending a community event, and 81 percent reported encouraging friends or family to shop or dine at small, independently owned retailers and restaurants.

The downtown organizations of Fulton and Montgomery counties should develop community events to coincide with Small Business Saturday to help increase customer traffic and awareness of the shopping holiday. One local event that might serve as a model could be the annual winter Chowderfest in Saratoga Springs, which successfully draws thousands from around the Capital Region and effectively circulates them through that city’s downtown as participants sample chowder at many of the several dozen chowder producing venues.

We hope next year we can report on a booming Small Business Saturday for the businesses of Fulton and Montgomery counties. We challenge all local business groups to begin the planning now to help make that happen.