The second Small Business Saturday took place this past weekend, with thousands of independent restaurants across the country participating.
“We want to show people that they don’t have to go to Subway or McDonald’s because it’s easier and that there are a lot of other options,” says Robin Schiff, owner of Spread, a fine dining vegetarian restaurant in San Diego.
Typically only open for dinner, on Saturday Spread opened for light snacks at lunchtime, focusing specifically on the restaurant’s namesake item, spreads (these includeCannabis Kissed Chocolate Peanut, Cinnamon Raisin, Pina Colada Peanut, and Chili Mango).
Schiff expected big business the day after Black Friday. “Hopefully it will be the people who didn’t want to come out on Black Friday,” she said last week. She’s also offering specials from her retail store in Los Angeles, offering discounts such as buy 10 spreads, get two free, and 10 percent off.
An event like this, she says, draws people in and can often be all that’s needed for them to become long-term customers.
Spread marketed its Small Business Saturday events via Facebook and Twitter, as well as through an email blast to its private clients.
Big Daddy's BBQ in Gary, Indiana, served 99-cent Taste of Tips, and Hot Link Sandwiches on Saturday—dishes that usually sell for $3 and $5 respectively.
“It will draw people in and get them to try different things so should impact business long term,” says store supervisor Tawanda Chambers.
The restaurant got the word out through flyers in the neighborhood, but also promoted it inside its doors with a big sign and verbal promotions.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and the friendly face across the counter where you can get unique products and a high touch level of service,” says Mary Ann Fitzmaurice, senior vice president, customer marketing and engagement for American Express, which created the event.
“[This event] is to remind consumers that it’s important to support their small businesses.”
The inaugural Small Business Saturday was held last year, also on the day following Black Friday. Of the independent restaurants it was able to track, American Express saw a 28 percent lift in sales that day. This compared favorably to the overall four percent lift that day across all retail, including chains.
The date is specifically chosen, Fitzmaurice explains, “because it’s the day that really kicks off the holiday season. We wanted to remind consumers of why it’s important to shop at their local businesses.”
To make it easy for independent businesses to participate, American Express provided a tool kit with downloadable materials on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page. It included templates for businesses to create a Facebook page; downloadable table tents; and a guide to creating a video of your business.
But there are plenty of things independent restaurants can offer on the day, Fitzmaurice adds. These include:
- Buy an entrée, get a free dessert
- Special music featured for the day.
- Special discounts
- Offering a rose to every woman
- A special Small Business Saturday entrée.
By Amanda Baltazar