The Winners of the Small Business Saturday Neighborhood Champion Innovation Contest Are...

December 19, 2019 | The Winners of the Small Business Saturday® Neighborhood Champion Innovation Contest Are… |

In November, we asked Main Street America members for their most innovative ideas for celebrating Small Business Saturday® as an American Express® Neighborhood Champion. From an interactive game show to an ugly sweater crawl, the 16 winners of the Small Business Saturday Neighborhood Champion Innovation Contest had some truly creative ideas for encouraging their communities to Shop Small! The entrant with the most innovative idea received one $1,000 gift card, and 15 other programs with creative plans won $500 gift cards in recognition of their Small Business Saturday efforts. Read on to learn more about the winning ideas:

Grand Prize Winner: Tybee Island, Georgia:
City of Tybee Island Development Authority/ Main Street

tybee_blog.pngA shopper poses for a photo for Tybee Island's Find Your Selfie competition. Credit: City of Tybee Island Development Authority Main Street

Tybee Island’s Main Street program encouraged shoppers to visit their small island for Small Business Saturday® with their "FIND YOUR SELFIE" Scavenger Hunt. Participants picked up a list of scavenger hunt clues at a local business and were prompted to take selfies at 10 of the most iconic photo spots on the island, which were located at Main Street businesses. Winners were selected randomly from those who posted a photo collage of all the selfie spots on Facebook, and prizes were donated by local businesses. With a special proclamation from the Mayor and City Council, free parking through New Year’s Day, and special discounts, door prizes, raffles, and food offered at shops, Tybee Island had a multi-faceted approached to Small Businesses Saturday that impressed the contest judges!

Berlin, Maryland: Berlin Main Street

Berlin_2_Credit_Ivy_Wells.jpgBerlin offered horse and buggy carriage rides throughout downtown as part of their Small Business Saturday efforts. Credit: Ivy Wells

Berlin’s Small Business Saturday® was all about making downtown a destination for holiday-centric experiences. Shoppers made handblown glass ornaments and created holiday cards using an old-fashioned printing machine. Berlin’s Small Business Saturday® Welcome Center featured a North Pole Mailbox, where kids could drop off letters for Santa and expect a personal reply, along with a coupon for a free treat at a downtown ice cream shop or bakery. Downtown businesses got in on the fun by participating in a Gingerbread House Making Contest.

Bradford, Pennsylvania: City of Bradford Main Street Program

Bradford offered cookies to shoppers and provided recipe cards for each unique treat. Credit: City of Bradford Main Street Program

Bradford added a sweet twist to Small Business Saturday® with their first-ever “Cookie Crawl.” Merchants baked up cookies to offer shoppers, and the Main Street program created recipe cards for each unique treat. Shoppers collected recipe cards to build their own holiday recipe collection while supporting each retailer. Bradford also created a map of their nationally and state registered Historic District, listing every participating business and the deals they offered for the day.

Burlington, New Jersey: Main Street Burlington

Burlington.jpegVolunteers pose outside the Main Street Burlington Welcome Center, housed in a vacant storefront. Credit: Main Street Burlington

Main Street Burlington used a vacant storefront as their Small Business Saturday® Welcome Center, where they served refreshments, hosted children’s entertainment, and distributed custom passports to shoppers. Passport holders received special store discounts, and those with completed passports were entered into a contest to win a “Valentine's Key to the City.” The winner and a guest received a complimentary overnight stay at a downtown Inn, as well as complimentary meals, discounted shopping, and theater tickets Valentine’s Day weekend.

Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Downtown Carlisle Association

carlisle_blog.pngThe “Love Local” campaign gave small business owners the opportunity to share their stories with shoppers. Credit Downtown Carlisle Association

Downtown Carlisle Association (DCA) spread the shop small love this year with a campaign called "Love Local." In the lead-up to Small Business Saturday®, they asked business owners to share their stories—anything from how they got started to what makes their business stand out—and DCA put them on large posters to display on storefronts. DCA also shared these stories on social media to encourage the community to support their small business owners.

Carlsbad, California: Carlsbad Village Association

carlsbad_blog.pngShoppers pose in front of a custom step and repeat with red carpet, which brought added attention to the event. Credit: Carlsbad Village Association

Carlsbad Village Association (CVA) attracted shoppers downtown all day long with an interactive Gift Card Giveaway. They texted winners every 30 minutes, and each winner had a half-hour to return to the CVA booth and claim a gift card from a Gift Card Giveaway tree. CVA gave away approximately $1,000 in gift cards and noted that having winning customers return to the booth every 30 minutes added a lot of excitement to the day. Local musicians played throughout downtown, and the day ended with live music from the high school band, carolers, and a visit from Santa.

Jacksonville, Illinois: Jacksonville Main Street

Both young and old  Santa Strollers participated in Jacksonville's Small Business Saturday activities. Credit Cory Garner, ElCrow Photography

Starting in mid-November, Jacksonville Main Street sold Santa hats filled with over $500 in coupons good for Small Business Saturday® for $10. On the big day, extended store hours allowed “Santa Strollers” more time to collect passport stamps for purchases from at least five different stores to be entered in a drawing to win a collection of downtown gift certificates. Santa's Elf also walked around town with Santa promoting ongoing holiday season sales while pushing a cart of reindeer food, elf gloves, and elf mints to raise money for Jacksonville’s 2020 ChristKindlMarket event plans.

Lee’s Summit, Missouri: Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street

lees_summit.pngDowntown Lee’s Summit offered scratch-off cards to Main Street shoppers. Credit: Downtown Lee’s Summit

Downtown Lee’s Summit continued their successful scratch-off card promotion, which has helped increase Small Business Saturday® merchant participation from 14 businesses in 2014 to more than 50 in 2018. Shoppers picked up cards at local businesses and got the chance to win a $10 or $250 gift card and a second-chance drawing to win a weekend getaway to one of their fellow Missouri Main Street communities. The first 3,000 shoppers received a free tote bag designed locally, and they created their own business champion kits that they distributed to all participating businesses leading up to the big day.

Los Alamos, New Mexico: Los Alamos MainStreet

Liddie Martinez, President of the Los Alamos Region & Director of Community Engagement at Enterprise Bank & Trust, the Blue Bucks Raffle sponsor, draws the winning Blue Bucks Raffle tickets during the Los Alamos Holiday Lights Parade on Dec. 7, 2019. Credit: Skip Wecksung

Los Alamos MainStreet organized the Blue Bucks cash-raffle drawing, sponsored by Enterprise Bank & Trust (formerly Los Alamos National Bank) and supported by the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce. For every $25 spent at participating businesses from Nov. 29 – Dec. 6, consumers received a "Blue Bucks" raffle ticket for a chance to win a grand prize of $1,000 and several smaller cash prizes ranging from $250-$500. The business that handed out the winning Blue Bucks ticket also received $1,000.

Mason City, Iowa: Main Street Mason City

mason_city_blog.pngRunners cross the festive finish-line at the Rum with Rudolph 5K Fun Run/Walk. Credit Aaron Thomas

Main Street Mason City offered a variety of family-friendly, holiday-inspired activities to draw community members downtown on Small Business Saturday®. The day kicked-off with their annual Rum With Rudolph 5K Fun Run/Walk. Then, families headed downtown for the Main Street Mason City Home for the Holidays festivities, which included over 20 free games, crafts, and activities, including cookie decorating, celebrity storybook readings, letters to Santa, tree lighting, and much more hosted in small businesses. It’s a community effort, as they log hundreds of volunteer hours before and during the big day.

Mount Vernon-Lisbon, Iowa: Mount Vernon Lisbon Community Development Group

mt_vernon_blog.pngThe Shop Small HQ team draws a raffle winner. Credit: Mount Vernon Lisbon Community Development Group

This year, Mount Vernon Lisbon Community Development Group turned their Small Business Saturday® event into an interactive, community-wide game show. Shoppers filled out forms available at all businesses for a chance to win a $25 community gift certificate. Twice an hour, Mount Vernon-Lisbon’s Shop Small HQ drew the name of a winner, who had just 10 minutes to get to HQ to receive their certificate. We’re told, “it is a hoot to see [shoppers] running down the street!” Designed to keep shoppers downtown, these raffles are complemented with locally-made t-shirts, live music, coupon-stuffed tote bags, and small businesses expos. Mount Vernon-Lisbon keeps the momentum going throughout the holiday season by handing out $50 gift certificates to shoppers in their downtown.

Oceanside, California: MainStreet Oceanside

Oceanside residents lined the street at the Merry Makers Fair, a free, two-day holiday pop-up market. Credit: Road West Photography

Oceanside began their month-long “Shop Local Oceanside” campaign on Small Business Saturday® with the Merry Makers Fair, featuring over 40 pop-up shops from local artisans. They also kicked-off their passport program, where shoppers who received stamps from each downtown business are entered to win prizes sponsored by merchants. Shoppers can also sample adult beverages in 15 downtown brick and mortar shops through MainStreet Oceanside’s Sip and Shop event. Activities are promoted on their dedicated website, in cooperation with the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, Visit Oceanside, and the City of Oceanside.

Peabody, Massachusetts: Peabody Main Streets

peabody_blog.pngParticipants show off their passports during Peabody's Ugly Sweater Crawl. Credit: Peabody Main Streets

During Peabody Main Streets’ Ugly Sweater Crawl, sweater-clad participants purchased a passport for $10, and then hopped on and off a trolley traveling to downtown businesses. Participants enjoyed a 20% discount at participating retailers and restaurants, and each business marked the total amount spent by each participant on their passport, so Peabody Main Street could track their results. Sweater Crawl shoppers could turn in their passport to be eligible for a grand prize raffle. The passport redemption area was strategically located at a holiday marketplace, featuring 60 local artisans.

Prosser, Washington: Historic Downtown Prosser Association

prosser_blog.pngHistoric Downtown Prosser Association’s Executive Director Jesalyn Cole poses at the Small Business Saturday® photo booth set up downtown. Credit: Fred Carroll

Historic Downton Prosser Association kicked off Small Business Saturday® with a proclamation from the City and passed out a print and digital Giving Guide with gift suggestions found in local shops. Shoppers who found 10 hidden “Shop Small” teddy bears in stores and those who spent $10 at shops were entered into a raffle for downtown gift cards. Prosser was able to track over $16,000 in sales. The excitement continued into the evening with caroling, tree lighting, a visit from Santa, and a showing of The Polar Express, sponsored by the local hospital.

Springfield, Illinois: Downtown Springfield Inc.

Downtown Springfield shoppers could purchase Santa hats filled with coupons for the chance to win a raffle prize. Credit: Kayla Graven

Downtown Springfield focused on strategic and festive incentives to draw people towards targeted shopping areas. To provide a link from the heart of downtown to their historic sites, Downtown Springfield offered rides in their Santa Van, which featured storytelling and hot chocolate. To encourage foot-traffic to side-street stores, Downtown Springfield parked a city bus donned with holiday lights on the side street and set up a “Kris Kringle”-style market in the adjoining plaza. With a day full of contests and drawings to drum up excitement and keep shoppers downtown, Downtown Springfield closed their the day with a tree lighting spectacular, including performances from youth dancers, local choirs, and Santa.

Woodland Park, Colorado: Woodland Park Main Street

woodland_park_main_street_blog.pngVolunteers stationed at Woodland Park’s Welcome Station tent on Small Business Saturday®. Credit: Gail Wingerd

Woodland Park Main Street, in partnership with the Greater Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce and Colorado GearLab, a local downtown business, joined forces to create a Welcome Station Event tent in the heart of their downtown district. The tent was set up early to entice shoppers to stop and enjoy free coffee and treats and receive a free Shop Small tote bag with a map of all the participating small businesses in town, as well as special holiday coupons that merchants provided.