Tired of big box Black Fridays? Try going local for Small Business Saturday

shop small business saturdayI know what you’re thinking: Does this weekend really need another event? Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and … you know, Thanksgiving, some of you are pretty much booked solid for the entire holiday. But if you just haven’t gotten your fill, allow me to suggest Small Business Saturday.

November24, 2012 marks the third annual Small Business Saturday, sliding in between two of the more corporate commerce holidays we celebrate. But instead of camping outside Walmart or feverishly clicking through Amazon, Small Business Saturday focuses on the local vendors and retailers in your city that also want some your hard-earned holiday cash.

Here’s a comprehensive guide of everything you need to get the most out of Small Business Saturday.

Twitter handles and hashtags to follow

shopsmall twitterTwitter invested in Small Business Saturday this year, and then some: The network offered up $1 million free advertising credits to small businesses, so expect to see plenty of your local shops using this as incentive to advertise their discounts on Twitter. In addition to following your favorite local shops and small businesses, there are a few other Twitter handles and hashtags worth keeping up on this weekend.

@SBAgov – Official Twitter account for the national Small Business Association.

@ShopSmall – Official Twitter account from American Express.

#SmallBizSat

#ShopSmall

#SmallBusinessSaturday

American Express wants to give you $25 for shopping small

American Express has basically become the corporate sponsor for Small Business Saturday – and yes, the idea of a national banker aligning itself with a local, small business-focus event is sort of counterintuitive. Nonetheless, there are savings to be had. If you enroll an eligible Amex Express card with the company’s dedicated site for the event, you can get $25 for an in-store transaction with a qualifying local business this Saturday; American Express will send you a $25 statement credit for the money you spent. You can check out more of the fine print here, and see what businesses make the cut for the money back deal.

shopsmall amex map

Etsy stores with deals

There is one glaring issue with Small Business Saturday, and that’s the fact that it hasn’t made itself available to online shops. Brick and mortar locations aren’t necessarily the only way to shop local, and plenty of local artisans set up shop on the great wide Web and save costs on physical stores.

small biz saturday etsyHopefully Small Business Saturday will come to include these entrepreneurs as well, but for now your best bet is to turn to Etsy. 

The best way to find Etsy deals is just to search “Small Business Saturday” on the site. You’ll find an impressive amount of shops offering discounts, free shipping, and other rewards this Saturday.

Apps

foursquare updateFoursquare

Foursquare has naturally been at the helm of Small Business Saturday since its inception. The location-focused app has been a big part of directing attention to your area shops, and a recent update this week only makes it easier to kick some love to your local retailers. There’s a new Recently Opened tab within the app, and be sure the check in for deals at shops around town – lots of small businesses will be offering discounts and rewards for doing so.

Shopnear.me

This app launched this week and focuses on connecting users with their local apparel and jewelry shops. Plenty of local e-commerce apps find and rank your area restaurants and bars, but Shopnear.me is all about the goods. The app aggregates boutqiues and indie brands (and where they’re sold locally). Here’s the catch – and it’s a big one: Since Shopnear.me just launched, it’s currently only available in San Francisco, so only a handful of you will probably be venturing on this weekend trying the app out.

Facebook check-ins

If you don’t already have the Facebook app (which I have trouble believing), you should grab it and see if any local shops are offering deals, discounts, or rewards for check-ins.

Yelp

Yelp’s feeling some heat from the barrage of local-focused apps lately, but in many ways it’s still a local business’ best friend. The sheer amount of reviews the site boasts makes it an easy pit stop for consumers. Plenty of small shops will also be using Yelp Check-ins as an incentive for rewards as well.

One last resource…

The National Federation of Independent Business put together this handy overview of local businesses offering deals this Saturday. A mobile version is available here. It’s not a flashy app and there are no check-ins or gamification techniques – just a straight-up, good old-fashioned list of businesses across the country gearing up for Small Business Saturday. 

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