Small Biz Saturday promotes local shopping

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More than 100 Colorado Springs retailers will officially participate in Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24, according to the American Express website.

Others who don’t accept American Express will likely take part as well.

The event, designed to promote small local businesses during the start of the important holiday shopping season when events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday tend to focus on big-box and online merchants, has been growing since American Express launched it two years ago.

Nationally, 47 percent of small retailers say they plan to participate whether they accept American Express or not. That’s up from 37 percent in 2011, said Scott Krugman, spokesman for American Express.

“Locally, it’s definitely growing,” said Aikta Marcoulier, director of the small-business development center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. “It’s a good event. It’s exposing how much we really need to support local businesses.”

She said the Waldo Canyon fire reminded residents that local businesses need their patronage.

“Now, more than ever, local business needs our support to make up for what was lost during the fire,” Marcoulier said. “I think the word is that our small businesses need help.”

She says Small Business Saturday is an easy way to promote during the holidays. Even for businesses that don’t normally accept American Express, there are resources on the website that retailers and restaurants can use to promote their small business the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Marcoulier thinks more local business owners are becoming aware of the event. She has been reaching out to business owners to make sure they know about it and help them find resources through American Express and the Small Business Administration.

While American Express started the event and continues to support it by offering a $25 credit to card users who register ahead of the event and spend at least $25 at participating merchants on Small Business Saturday, it is becoming less and less about the credit-card company, Kruger said.

“We’re really starting to see small business take ownership of the day,” he said.