By Terry E. Cohen
Carrboro’s Small Business Saturday on Nov. 26 joins a long-standing sequence of special days tied to the Thanksgiving holiday. In that line-up, Small Business Saturday is the baby of the family, but its importance shouldn’t be overlooked.
First, of course, came Thanksgiving Day itself, which had a stop-start ride on its way to becoming a permanent national holiday. Massachusetts got all the credit for being first with a Thanksgiving in 1621, but Virginia can easily lay claim to the honor for its version in 1619.
Then Black Friday appeared on the scene (not the financial crash Black Friday of 1869) the day after Thanksgiving, picking up its name from not the best of situations: the chaos of holiday shopping in Philadelphia in the early ’60s. It’s mostly associated today with the big retailers.
Next up, Cyber Monday launched in November of 2005 so retailers could mirror the magic of Black Friday through their online portals. Again, most businesses that could do that in the early days were the big hitters.
AMEX (American Express) decided to fill an economic need and started Small Business Saturday, the name of which says it all. It’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and the focus is on shopping with small businesses, most of which are fully local, even if they also have an online presence—or only an online presence.
In addition to the statistics that can be found in Town of Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils’ proclamation of the day for local observance, United We Stand underscores the rest of the economic benefit of shopping small businesses locally: $68 out of every $100 spent stays in the community. Only $43 of that $100 stays in the community when shopping with a national chain.
The United We Stand site also mentions some of the other benefits. Shoppers are more likely to find more personal gifts with more personality. For those who care about the environment, fair trade and ethical sourcing, supporting artists and minority business—the list goes on—a small business is more likely to have the goods (and services) that meet those increasing consumer demands.
Carrboro Business Alliance (CBA), which has over 100 local business members, plans to kick off the Small Business Saturday with its table at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market from 9-10 a.m., handing out swag bags with coupons and freebies to first-comers. CBA is also directing visitors to #BuyLocal and CarrboroCheer.com, enabling shoppers to scope out ideas for purchase in advance. For others, the thrill comes in the serendipity of the unplanned wandering through shops, enjoying that moment when inspiration compels those special purchases.
If none of these shopping experiences sends a person to the moon, social marketplace Poshmark is launching Secondhand Sunday this year to fill that open day in the series. Even that can be leveraged for local benefit, but it remains to be seen if this new baby of the family will have the staying power of its older siblings.
Still, there is one more day in the series, and it is younger than Small Business Saturday. Started in 2012, it’s Giving Tuesday (#GivingTuesday). It, too, can use people’s holiday generosity—locally and globally—to support whatever is important to a person’s heart.
Terry E. Cohen is the editor of The Local Reporter. She also writes articles for a global media firm on topics related to Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) in business and industry.