Small Business Saturday Gives Local Retailers a Chance to Shine

By: Karen Dybis | November 27, 2020
Small Business Saturday

Photo Courtesy of City Bird.

Those big-box retailers may have corner the market on Black Friday, but for people who are looking for ways to support their city’s downtowns, that great locally owned business down the street or any Mom-and-Pop style retailer, they have Small Business Saturday to get their holiday gift-giving chores done. 

Small businesses need consumers to shop small more than ever, according to retail and shopping experts. With the many challenges that 2020 has brought, stores are working hard to stay open and learn new things. That’s because the past eight months have shown every small-business owners that they “have to be willing to completely flip their business on its head,” said small-business expert Athan Slotkin. 

“Ecommerce and digital markets were skills every business owner needed to understand. COVID was the catalyst that pushed it even further and faster,” said Slotkin, a business-plan strategist and founder of The Shadow CEO, a small-business consulting firm. 

Slotkin points to recent report by Allocadia that found nearly half or 44% of shoppers plan to buy online during the holiday shopping season compared to 33% in 2019. Large companies like Amazon, Walmart and Target have launched their Black Friday and related holiday-shopping campaigns, showcasing a plethora of online deals to snag shoppers.

According to American Express, which helped to create Small Business Saturday, an estimated 110 million people participated in Small Business Saturday last year, and sales hit a record high with an estimated $19.6 billion in reported spending.

Initially founded in 2010 by American Express in response to the Great Recession, Small Business Saturday has evolved into a year-round global Shop Small campaign to support small merchants, and earlier this year, American Express helped jumpstart spending at small businesses by committing more than $200 million through the company’s largest ever global Shop Small campaign.

“Small Business Saturday is an important part of our global Shop Small campaign, and small businesses need our support more than ever as they continue to navigate the effects of COVID-19,” Elizabeth Rutledge, Chief Marketing Officer of American Express, said in a statement.

“We know 88% of U.S. consumers feel a personal commitment to support small businesses in the wake of the pandemic,” Rutledge said. “Whether online, curbside or safely in store, we’re reminding consumers that they can help make an impact by shopping small and sharing their favorite small businesses on social media all holiday season long.”

Here are some Small Business Saturday events and shops who traditionally put together events that honor local retailers. 

The Peacock Room

Retail expert Rachel Lutz of Detroit’s Peacock Room, Frida and Yama has been doing Facebook Live events to promote her products and helping others do the same. She will have a variety of events at her stores for Small Business Saturday as well. Lutz is a great shopper and has a well-trained eye for gifts that people will love well after the holidays are over.

City Bird

This Midtown favorite is putting together themed boxes for several occasions, including boxes for moms, dads, sports lovers, a “parade in a box” with all the things you need to watch the parade from home (hot cocoa, slippers, etc). They also have greeting cards new in stock, Covid-themed and otherwise. Andy and Emily Linn, the siblings who own City Bird, have switched from entirely brick-and-mortar to small, intimate appointments or online orders.

Detroit Experience Factory

If you want a historic or well-rounded understanding of Detroit and where it is going, then this is the tour company for you. DXF is doing a virtual tour of Detroit’s small businesses to get people interested in shopping small. Signing up for its online event will provide shoppers with a local tour guide, who will highlight Detroit’s neighborhood shopping districts and the stories behind the shops anchored in them. 

Winter Market

In Lathrup Village, shoppers can participate in a Winter Market, which allows people to “treat themselves” or shop for unique, handmade holiday gifts. The outdoor event requires all shoppers must be wearing masks and practice social distancing. To make it more fun, dozens of Lathrup Village businesses will also be participating in Lathrup Business Bingo, where shoppers can visit downtown businesses to win prizes.


The city’s local Arts and Recreation organization is asking shoppers to “ditch the mall and shop small” during the Holiday Artisan Market, a seasonal celebration of local culture, food, fashion and art. Families can visit PARC’s resident artists in the Art Wing, then experience more art, food, and music from local makers in PARC’s Theater. The Holiday Market features community favorites such as Acorn Glassworks, Gooseneck Coffee Co., Bon Bon Bon Chocolate Treats, Central Clay Studio, Janisse Larsson Art, and more.