Be a game changer: Small Business Saturday

by Cinda Baxter on November 8, 2010

in Holidays, Marketing, Promotions, Retail, The 3/50 Project

Please note:
As of May 2011, The 3/50 Project no longer supports SBS, for reasons explained here. Had I known then what I know now…..

Those of you who have been on The 3/50 Project website recently may—or may not—have noticed an odd space in the Special Promotions section of our Resources page, just to the left of our Big Things come in Small Boxes icon.  Well, there’s a reason for that. There’s something special going on…

…and you’re gonna love it. Welcome to Small Business Saturday

When American Express OPEN approached me about becoming a sponsor of The 3/50 Project, conversations began about ways they could not only help small businesses, but tap into the huge pool of American Express cardholders (read: consumers) necessary to support independent merchants. Next thing you know, Tom’s on the phone saying “Cinda, we have an idea.”

Enter Small Business Saturday.

Let’s face it. Black Friday has been gobbled up by big box retailers. Cyber Monday is the domain of online retailers. American Express (and The 3/50 Project!) want to take back the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend and make it all about locally owned, independent, brick and mortar businesses. We want to inspire consumers to shop with the little guys that day, not head off to the national chains instead.

So…how’s this going to get out to consumers?

• Small business owners can download free marketing materials and social media tools to spread the word by visiting

• The first 10,000 small business owners who register on will receive $100 worth of free, geo-targeted advertising on Facebook (11.23.10 UPDATE: You guys are gooooooood. Just found out all 10,000 ad credits have been scooped up. Well done!)

• American Express OPEN has scheduled a satellite media tour featuring Yours Truly as the national spokesperson for Small Business Saturday. That means the person talking about all this local, independent business goodness is the one who lives, eats, and breathes it 24/7.

To make sure their own consumers get the message, American Express is offering a $25 account credit to cardholders who register on the Small Business Saturday website, then spend at least that much with locally owned, independent brick and mortar retailers on November 27th. Cool, huh?

Between The 3/50 Project’s Big Things campaign and Small Business Saturday, you have two solid game plans to carry you through the end of the holiday shopping season. So what are you waiting for? Go get ‘em, Tiger!

Colleen November 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm

I find it very ironic that American Express is promoting the “Small Business Saturday project, as most of the small businesses I frequent don’t take American Express. I’m ALWAYS told that AmEx merchant fees are significantly higher than the other credit card networks.

Nancy November 8, 2010 at 4:10 pm

We have always accepted American Express (for 15 years). It is a form of customer service, and many of our customers, especially in this economy are saving points via their AMEX cards when they purchase with us and others. People are surprised and grateful that we accept this card.

Mary November 9, 2010 at 7:57 pm

I, too, find it ironic for American Express to be promoting this “Small Business Saturday”. We do not accept American Express at our store because it is too costly to us. This sounds to me like American Express putting pressure on small businesses to accept the terms of accepting their card.

Cinda Baxter November 12, 2010 at 11:20 am

I hear your concern Mary, but can vouch for the fact AmEx isn’t asking a single business who doesn’t currently accept the card to do so now. Sure, they’d love to have everyone accept it, but by no means are they doing anything through Small Business Saturday to push folks into doing anything they don’t want to do.

What Small Business Saturday has already provided is massive visibility for independent brick and mortars, targeting the biggest shopping weekend of the year to drive consumers back in that direction. I’ve spent the past two days in interviews with major media outlets covering the story, each one focused on supporting the “mom and pop” businesses that line our streets. That’s a whole lot of ink and air time we wouldn’t otherwise have. Major win for the little guys here.

Holly Myers November 15, 2010 at 11:59 am

Will there be any advertising available to those of us that do not take American Express? I have looked at the poster and find it difficult to post in my shop window as it speaks about a $25 American Express Credit. I am hoping for a Small Business Saturday poster that I can post… like the logo at the 3/50 Project site. But there is no link to it.

Cinda Baxter November 16, 2010 at 9:59 am

Holly, with the exception of the poster, I’m fairly certain nothing else includes the AmEx logo (ie, the website badge, the Facebook ad, etc.). The logo on The 3/50 Project website is being used there with their permission–and is low res, which won’t work for print.

I completely understand your challenge and am working on a solution as fast as possible. In the meantime, please download the Big Things poster from website to get the word out about supporting independents. It’s not a replacement, but it fills a gap while I work toward a Small Business Saturday solution.

Cynthia Sutton-Stolle November 16, 2010 at 10:54 pm

We have accepted American Express at our small store in South Texas for the last two years. We reluctantly began accepting it due to the expense. I must say, adding American Express was a great decision. It was worth it for our customers, and our sales. We have been very, very happy with them. I am excited and proud they are supporting small retailers. And, I thank Cinda Baxter for fighting to promote small retailers any way she can!

Holly Myers November 17, 2010 at 12:08 pm

The Small Business Saturday poster seemed to have a changed just enough to satisfy my needs….. I have had 60 of them printed and will spread them around!!!!!
Thank you, THANK YOU!

Natalie November 17, 2010 at 10:39 pm

As a small business who takes American Express, I have never understood the … it’s too costly excuse. It’s only slightly higher than your V/MC/Disc charges and I find that customers are very very appreciative that I do take it and I know some of them remember it when they are out shopping. And I find that Amex customers tend to spend more ….. completely worth every penny I pay to Amex. You are paying a percentage of sales and less than 2% of a big sale more (vs V/MC/Disc) is totally worth it in my book. If I wanted to recoup the costs someplace else — I’d only have to cut out a couple weekly lunches and it would pay for it. And honestly I feel like the bigger tickets cover the cost !! Just my .02

Cinda Baxter November 19, 2010 at 10:51 am

Cynthia, it’s my pleasure…and an honor to be speaking on behalf of “the little guys.” Every one of you is larger than life, in my opinion—thanks for everything YOU do to keep moving forward!

Cinda Baxter November 19, 2010 at 10:54 am

@Holly: Thanks goes to the fine folks at American Express OPEN; when we’ve needed their support, they’ve listened, then jumped into action. Glad we’re on solid ground with the graphics now!

Jan Brockway November 19, 2010 at 11:33 am

Cinda, I just have to send out a big ol’ shout of appreciation for all you do for us indie shops. This is a brilliant campaign, and I aDORE the TV ad that’s running in support of it. I’ve even rolled it back to watch again (the only other ad that got that much attention from me is the one with the Kia hamsters). Thanks again!

Peter Rose November 27, 2011 at 9:21 pm

What did I read about CInda’s sadness about the collaborations or lack thereof between 3/50 and AE? Am I imagining things?

We had signs up at both of our stores, posted on facebook, really tried to make noise abou this. The bump was not significant as far as we can tell, but the additional drumbeat added to the efforts of our other supportive sources just can’t be bad. We’re delighted, and determined to grow it. Shop Small on Small Business Saturday and Everyday.

We’ve been hyping 3/50 for a long time now. We also believe in Stacy Mitchell and Amiba and Balle. There remains so much to do, and I take comfort in knowing I have friends helping.

Cinda Baxter November 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm

No, Peter, you aren’t imagining things. The 3/50 Project no longer promotes SBS since AmEx failed to make good on their repeated promises of long term funding of the Project.

For more info, please see my more recent post,

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