Shopping on Small Business Saturday? 5 Top Ways To Do It Right


November 19, 2021

This nationwide event has drawn the likes of former President Barack Obama, Glee’s Lea Michele and tennis great Serena Williams. Even Lin-Manuel Miranda, of “Hamilton” musical fame, will be joining in on the fun this year.

You’re also invited. Small Business Saturday — a popular movement created to bolster support for small businesses — is just around the corner, scheduled on Nov. 24 this year.

Organized by American Express, the annual marketing effort encourages consumers to go out and “shop small.” Not only will you get the satisfaction of helping out local business owners and your community, you may also score a deal. Many of the participating retailers sweeten the day with special discounts, offers, and free tastings.

If you’re partaking in the event this year as a shopper, here are five top ways to do it right:

#1: Plan Ahead: Map Out Your Strategy

Lin-Manuel Miranda, of “Hamilton” fame, in a Small Business Saturday promo. Image courtesy of Amex.

Before you head out and start spending, get the lay of the land first. Visit the Small Business Saturday website and search a ZIP code to see who’s participating in your area or your favorite Main Street or city center. You can also search by business name to check for your favorite local retailers.

According to American Express, last year’s event drew an estimated 108 million shoppers across the country, so expect to see crowds. Your best bet is to map out a few businesses you’d like to check out within walking distance of each other and just make a day out of it.

To ease parking and traffic stress for yourself and local neighborhoods, consider taking a ride-sharing service such as Lyft or Uber. Otherwise, try to find a parking structure or lot where your car can sit for a few hours.

#2: Scope Out Special Events, Deals in Advance

Big box giants aren’t the only ones doling out deals and discounts during the holiday season. You can find them on Small Business Saturday, too.

Perhaps the most efficient way to locate sales is through your local neighborhood or business associations, nonprofits that unite and advance the interests of local communities.

Adams Avenue Business Association, which represents a bustling hub in central San Diego, has organized a cocktail “stroll” from 2-5 p.m. on Small Business Saturday, allowing you to sample merry-themed mixed drinks fashioned by bartenders from the area’s hippest bars and eateries. Treat yourself to pop-up shops and shopping in between cocktails. Blackmarket Bakery, a FE Small Business Finance borrower, is among the participating venues you’ll be able to frequent on this cocktail crawl.

Little Italy’s business association, which represents an area near downtown San Diego, has curated a list of local businesses offering discounts on this day, from deals on services at a salon to $7 sangria glasses all day at a wine shop.  

To find the nearest business or neighborhood association, simply search the neighborhood name you’re interested in and “business association” or “neighborhood association” to check for any results. Local chambers of commerce are a potentially good source, too.

#3: Prep Your Holiday Lists & Check it Twice

small business saturdayIf you’re not a spur-of-the-moment type, make a shopping list. Consider who you’re shopping for and think about what items you may find on Small Business Saturday they might like.

Sometimes, it’s as easy as a substitution. Do you usually get a friend a high-end candle from a department store or national chain? Instead, consider buying it at a retail boutique, where they’re more likely to source items that are local or regional and sustainably made.

Long Beach, Calif.-based boutique Burke Mercantile, and FE Small Business Finance borrower, sells soy-based wax candles made by an independent retailer. (Here’s a tip: On Small Business Saturday, they’re offering free small bites and mimosas along with a discount for first-time customers.)

These days, most independent retailers have presences online, whether it’s a website or social media account. If a retailer interests you, check out its inventory online beforehand.

#4: Rally Your Loved Ones, Neighbors To Join You

Last year, more than 100 million shoppers hit the pavement to patronize independent shops and restaurants in the U.S. on Small Business Saturday. While that’s an amazing feat, the number of people who came out on Black Friday, the big-box version, had that beat, with 137 million customers.

This can be your chance to help get those Small Business Saturday numbers up. Gather your friends, family, colleagues and neighbors to create a stroll of your own. Or simply help participating indie retailers spread the word about their “shop small” deals or events.  

#5: Can’t Make it Out That Day? Shop on Etsy

Will you be busy on Small Business Saturday but don’t want to miss out on supporting local merchants? There’s always Etsy, the online marketplace of handmade, vintage and unique goods. Here, you can get everything from gorgeous greeting cards to custom-made dog collars.

Did you know in Etsy’s search function, you can input a city name to get results of merchants, artisans and vendors from that area? This handy feature can help you shop local without leaving your doorstep.

FE Small Business Finance is a champion of independent shops and restaurants all over. Serving California, Arizona and Nevada, we help small businesses of all sizes and stages get access to affordable loans to start or grow their operations.

Tell our loan experts about your business, and they’ll work to match you with a financing plan that best suits you. Let’s talk! Reach us at or (619) 243-8667.

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