If you love the thrill of chasing deals, Black Friday is the day to go to the big box stores. But if the lines and crowds associated with shopping the day after Thanksgiving are your personal version of hell, there may be a really good alternative.
Small Business Saturday, an initiative that American Express helped to launch back in 2010, is a way to turn consumers' eyes away from the corporate side of Christmas and toward smaller shops instead. Twitter, the United States Postal Service and Foursquare are supporters, offering bonuses to help businesses get the word out about participation in the event.
Small Business Saturday's Patricia Norins, an advisor for the initiative, told HLN that in 2012 the event made $5.5 billion dollars and consumers' awareness of it was at 67%. Not too shabby for an event that's about to celebrate its fourth year.
Pounding the pavement on Small Business Saturday is a lot less likely to fray your nerves than standing in a line outside of Walmart, but doing a bit of pre-planning can still go a long way toward shopping success. Here are a few tips:
1. Map out where you'd like to go
There are thousands of small businesses taking part in Small Business Saturday, but how can you find out if your favorites are among them? Do your planning with a map that will track participating retailers by zip code. It will also give you a chance to phone them and find out what they may be offering so you can plan accordingly.
2. Start early
This rule is the same for Black Friday, but the good news is, Small Business Saturday's idea of "early" is vastly different. Most local businesses open around 10 a.m., so you won't need to rise at 2 a.m. to take advantage of some good deals. You'll even have time to go out for breakfast first!
3. Pay it forward
Small businesses may sometimes struggle to compete with the big corporate names, but they are often known for lavishing more personal attention on their customers. Take advantage of an app like Yelp to share what your experience was like. Local businesses tend to check their reviews -- and if they recognize your name, they may be that much more likely to treat you like royalty when they see you next.
4. Tell your friends
Every Christmas, it seems people commiserate about how corporate the holidays have become and how much they hate big box shopping. If you can pass along an alternative method of finding deals, your friends just might be interested.