Entrepreneurship Holidays

A Big Deal for Small Shops

Small Business Saturday impacts entrepreneurs’ bottom lines

Tom Giffey, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

SHOP SMALL. Local businesses, like Pleasant Valley Tree Farm, are more likely to
SHOP SMALL. Local businesses, like Pleasant Valley Tree Farm, are more likely to reinvest in their communities.

A little more than a decade ago, a massive multinational financial company decided to do something big for the little guy. Since then, the Saturday immediately after Thanksgiving has been known as Small Business Saturday, an effort created by American Express to draw more shoppers to America’s small businesses the day after Black Friday, when those same shoppers traditionally flocked to big box stores.

Small Business Saturday has certainly had an impact: In 2019, an estimated 110 million people shopped on Small Business Saturday, spending a record $19.6 billion, American Express research found.

The “buy small, buy local” mantra got an extra boost in 2020 as consumers stepped in to help small businesses struggling to deal with the pandemic. And that has continued into 2021, as businesses around the Chippewa Valley prepare for the latest Small Business Saturday, which falls this year on Nov. 27.

We appreciate that people come out. ... By far that day is our biggest day anytime of the year.


OWNER OF RAGGEDY MAN, on small business saturday

Matt Pabich, owner of Raggedy Man, a gift shop in downtown Eau Claire, said he feels the momentum generated in 2020 continuing.

“I think last year really shifted people’s energy and focus, especially in terms of the holidays,” he says. During Raggedy Man’s first Small Business Saturday, in 2018, Pabich offered discounts to try to lure shoppers in the door. However, he realized that he didn’t really need incentives: For shoppers, helping small businesses on Small Business Saturday was the incentive.

“We appreciate that people come out,” he says. “By far that day is our biggest day anytime of the year.”

And spending at shops like Raggedy Man can have a big impact on more than business owners and employees: That money helps the communities around them flourish as well. According to a 2018 study by American Express, 67 cents out of every dollar spent at a small business stays in that community.

“The pandemic has been incredibly tough on our small businesses, and this year is just as important to support local as it was last year,” says Dustin Olson, communications and promotions manager for Downtown Eau Claire Inc.

Learn more about what’s happening in Eau Claire on Small Business Saturday by visiting bit.ly/ShopSmallDECI – or just hit the streets and shop the weekend after Thanksgiving.