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5 Tips to Make Your Small Business Saturday a Success in 2022

Wednesday, October 26, 2022 | 5 Tips to Make Your Small Business Saturday a Success in 2022 | By: Liz Shenk, Manager of Marketing and Outreach, Main Street America |

Small Business Saturday® is coming up on November 26, and Main Streets across the country are gearing up to rally their communities around the small businesses at the heart of their downtowns. From social media scavenger hunts to downtown passports, the Main Street network has used countless innovative ways to encourage their communities to Shop Small® -- and had plenty of fun doing it. This year, we’re once again partnering with American Express to offer you support and resources as you get prepared for the big day. As you develop your plans, be sure to create a plan that authentically celebrates your local community and complies with local laws and regulations.

Keep reading to learn more about how communities are celebrating Small Business Saturday this year, and get tips and tricks for making yours a success.

Tip #1: Serve as an American Express Neighborhood Champion

Join thousands of other Neighborhood Champions across the country to help rally your community for Small Business Saturday. All Neighborhood Champions receive complimentary kits with fun and practical Shop Small merchandise to distribute throughout their communities. Thanks to American Express, all Main Street America organization members have been pre-qualified to serve as Neighborhood Champions on a first come, first served basis. Just fill out the brief application here, and indicate you were referred by the National Main Street Center (NMSC) in the drop-down box. Applications will remain open through mid-November or until all spots are filled, so be sure to apply soon!

Plus, stay tuned to our channels for more information on the Neighborhood Champion Innovation Contest. In the spring of 2023, you can enter the Neighborhood Champion Innovation Contest for the opportunity to win a cash prize of up to $5,000! This year, our judging panel is looking for the most creative and innovative ways you engaged with younger, “next-generation” shoppers (think Millennial and Gen Z) in your community. Keep this in mind when planning your promotions for Small Business Saturday! Contest rules can be found here – and learn about last year’s winners here.

Tip #2: Make a Day (Or Week, Or Month) Of It

Small Business Saturday may be just one day, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop there. You can keep the small business love going all season long by offering promotions, activities, and events throughout the holidays. Be sure to provide downtown shoppers with the chance to sign up to be on your mailing list so that you can engage with these community members and make them downtown customers throughout the holiday season and all-year round. Ask businesses to offer coupons or other incentives to encourage customers to return after Small Business Saturday ends.

One great example of keeping the holiday spirit alive was in the city of Madisonville, Tennessee (City of Madisonville). Last year, they kicked off their Shop Small season with a “Lighting of the Square” event on Black Friday, complete with a Christmas tree lighting and a live concert featuring Chris Blue, season 12 winner of “The Voice.” Following that, they held a Christmas Festival that took place every Saturday for the next three weekends. This year, they are planning to add an “Old Fashioned Candy Christmas” event to their celebrations on Small Business Saturday, capped off with a parade finale. Main Street Director Karen Carey says, “The holidays seem to get everyone excited and motivated, so we plan to make this an annual tradition and build on it each year.” 

Tip #3: Get the Word Out Early & Often

Some of the most common feedback we receive from communities that hosted successful Small Business Saturday and Shop Small events is that they started planning early – and in doing so, were able to begin promotions well in advance as well. In addition to adding information to your own organization’s marketing channels, you can also partner with regional media outlets, run ads in local publications, provide media kits to business owners, ask partners and sponsors to share information on their own pages, and make sure to post on your website, blog, e-newsletters, and social media (more on this in our next tip!).

In DeLand, Florida (MainStreet DeLand Association), Small Business Saturday has become their busiest shopping day of the year. Their success comes from promoting the event through a mix of both print and social media, to make sure they’re reaching as wide an audience as possible. This approach has been so successful, said Executive Director Wayne Carter, that local business owners asked them to hold off on adding a promotion because they were already too busy to participate!

Tip #4: Take the Party Online

By now, we all know how important it is to go digital – and since the pandemic, reaching audiences online is more important than ever. If you’re not already, make sure to use social media and other online platforms to help market your event. Think outside the Facebook Event box this year – are there local “influencers” in your community that can help you spread the word through an Instagram Takeover? Are there TikTok trends you can try out to reach out to a younger audience?

In addition to using social media to help market your event, you can also use it for creative interactive experiences. In 2021, Tenleytown Main Street in Washington, D.C. invited shoppers to compete in a Yeti Scavenger Hunt using a mobile app. The app prompted shoppers to perform tasks and answer trivia questions at local businesses. Winners earned “TenleyBucks” to spend at participating shops and restaurants. All shoppers were encouraged to visit the Tenleytown Main Street Small Business Saturday Welcome Station to record brief videos telling the community why they support small businesses and to pick up giveaway bags filled with coupons, samples, and brochures from businesses.

Tip #5: Start Thinking About Next Year (Already!)

For many small businesses, Small Business Saturday is their biggest day of the year. Because of the Shop Small movement’s importance to small businesses’ bottom line, it’s never too early to start planning for next year. Luckily, Main Street America and American Express have created plenty of resources and learning opportunities over the years to inspire you:

Announcing the 2021 Winners of the Neighborhood Champion Innovation Contest, May 2022
Tips and Tricks to Help Make Your Small Business Saturday a Success in 2021, November 2021
Ten Ideas to Make Your Small Business Saturday a Success, October 2019
Local Impact: Small Business Saturday, October 2018
• Check out this webinar on Making the Most of Small Business Saturday, 2018

Let’s keep the conversation going! Share your ideas and tips from previous Small Business Saturday celebrations with the Main Street America network on The Point.