Expert Tips for Making the Most of Small Business Saturday

For many local businesses across the nation, Small Business Saturday is a chance to compete with the likes of Amazon, Macy’s, Target, and other big-box retailers that typically dominate during the holiday season.

But since it’s founding by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday has come to mean much more than just a bump in sales or an increase in followers. As husband and wife business team Ashley and Jordan Fripp explain, Small Business Saturday is part of a greater movement that emphasizes high-quality, handmade goods — and the vibrant communities behind them.

Jordan, who sells illustrated prints, T-shirts, and other handmade goods through his business frippdesign, says that Small Business Saturday “is a reminder that there are actual people out there creating and crafting products on their own, here in America.”

And while most people can get behind the idea of shopping locally and supporting small businesses, many people are unaware of just how important it really is.

Tran Wills, a Denver entrepreneur and the co-founder of non-toxic nail salon Base Coat, explains that buying local is essential to local economies.

Shopping local is so huge during the holidays. 50% of sales go back to the community when you shop at a small business. When you shop at a big retailer, only 2% of profits go back into the community.

Tran Wills

So whether you’re an established Etsy seller or you’re just getting your eCommerce shopping cart up and running, here are three tips for increasing brand exposure and driving sales both on Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday season.

1. Create a Strategic Multi-Channel Presence

According to data from Stitch Labs, retailers who sell through an online marketplace like Etsy in addition to selling through a website shopping cart drive 38% more revenue than companies with just one marketplace. However, it can be hard to decide which channels are best for your audience.

To determine where you should be selling, consider this successful strategy from Ashley and Jordan Fripp. Jordan puts most of his products on Etsy first, which helps him gauge which products have the most customer interest.

frippdesign small business saturday

Then, Jordan uses this information to expand his reach. “Once we know we have a winner, we start to use other channels like direct web sales and art shows to engage a wider audience of national and local customers” Jordan explained.

frippdesign etsy shop

Strategically diversifying your company’s presence has a number of benefits, including the ability to reach new audiences.

“Selling our items in different marketplaces allow more customers to come in contact with our items. We know not everyone out there is tech-savvy, and we feel it’s important to offer some items in boutique shops as well” said Ashley, who creates vintage travel and adventure-themed goods for her own shop, BrassAnchor.

vintage vacation poster

She also noted customer service as one of the biggest differentiators that independent retailers like her and Jordan can provide. “We feel that the customer service we can give is unparalleled to bigger companies.”

brassanchor mom baby

When you can provide customers with product options they love and create a delightful experience, you’ll be well on your way to creating happy, consistent customers.

2. Partner with Complimentary Small Businesses

Last year, Small Business Saturday shoppers spent a whopping $16.2 billion — a 14 percent increase from the $14.3 billion spent in 2014. This is a great indicator that the movement is growing, but it also signifies increased competition. For eCommerce companies hoping to drive a few extra sales, breaking through the saturated market is a real challenge.

To cut through the noise on Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday months, consider teaming up with another like-minded brand. This is a free, easy way to reach new audiences and boost your engagement, albeit without the guess work and A/B testing that digital marketing typically requires.

Take a look at this example from Strand Book Store to see how such partnerships can work.


Strand Book Store partnered with independent publisher Chronicle Books in its effort to donate 30,000 books to children in need to support the First Book foundation. By encouraging its audience to pledge to #givebooks this holiday season, Strand Book Store simultaneously promotes both its own industry and a good cause.

When searching for the right brand to partner with, remember that this relationship should be symbiotic. What can the company gain from partnering with you? Leverage these points when you pitch the idea to them.

3. Promote and Engage Customers (for Free)

Traditional advertising techniques like radio, television and print ads are proven to be effective, but they can be a costly endeavor for small businesses. If you still want to increase your audience during the holidays, social media is a great way to attract new customers in an organic way — entirely free of charge.

Base Coat nail salon, which has over 4,400 Instagram followers and counting, depends on social media to drive customer engagement. “Social media is a free outlet that allows us to reach our clients and our fans right away. This is especially important when we’re promoting sales” says Base Coat co-founder Tran Wills.

As a company that generates over half of its client base via Instagram, it’s worth examining what makes Base Coat so successful on social media. For example, this post below informs the Base Coat audience of its upcoming Small Business Saturday sale in a simple, yet effective way.

base coat nails

Visit Base Coat LoHi or DTLA on Small Business Saturday (11/26) and receive 10% off all retail purchases! Shop small, support local business and save money. And, as always, #treatyoself! ???

A photo posted by BASE COAT™ NON-TOXIC NAILS ? ? (@basecoatnailsalon) on


Base Coat varied the next post by switching up the subject matter and focusing on the features and benefits of its newest product.


base coat nail salon

Happy #ManiMonday Babes! Please join us at both our locations in Denver & L.A. for #SmallBusinessSaturday and help us celebrate the launch of our newest non-toxic nail care products our Lemongrass & Rosehip Cuticle Serum and Lavender Soy Nail Polish Remover.n10% OFF all retail and of course complimentary Rosé while you shop! The beautiful label artwork by Denver Artist @strangedirt. ???? #treatyoselftoacleanerbeautyexperiencei

A photo posted by BASE COAT™ NON-TOXIC NAILS ? ? (@basecoatnailsalon) on


This post also features different hashtags, which is a great way to attract and engage different audiences on the same platform.

For more tips on building your eCommerce business, read our article on winterizing your WooCommerce store, and don’t forget to #shopsmall!