It’s the most wonderful time of the year – we’re talking about Shop Small Saturday, of course! In preparation for November 28th, we asked small business owners and shoppers what makes them want to sell or shop small. We have those answers – and five ideas – that we think will spark some inspiration for not only the upcoming weeks but all year long. Check it out!

1. Customers love to hear your story.

The extra effort and quality materials that make your products or services a dollar or two more often get left in the dark. Take a look at your menu, product descriptions, etc. Can you say more? Doesn’t a description of apple pie that says, “Seasonal apples and spices from Root Down Farms, baked between buttery pastry crust and topped with a scoop of salted caramel” sound a lot more enticing than “Homemade apple pie”? If your descriptions or employees aren’t highlighting what makes your business special, you could be missing out.

"What I think makes customers shop small is definitely the homemade aspect of products. The hard work and dedication a small business provides can really be seen for miles!"

- Lauren Hunt, Owner of Empress Candles

2. Customers love to see collaboration.

People love to walk an entire street and stop at a variety of stores along the way. Consider teaming up with the small businesses on your block to create some sort of incentive where potential customers must stop at various stores and engage with an employee there. Take a boutique bingo board, for example, where every shop has a stamp. Those who complete the entire board could be entered into a joint giveaway. This is a great way for new people to meet and fall in love with your business. There’s no better time to try this tactic than on Shop Small Saturday!

“I love to walk down a sidewalk full of small businesses. See! Small supports small! You can see neighboring businesses boosting each other up vs. competing against them. It makes me want to join in!”

- Small Business Shopper

3. Customers love to see you in the community.

You have the ability to show how shopping with your business positively impacts your community. Consider calling out the percentage of a purchase that goes back into the community so customers can see they’re contributing to tax dollars that beautify their neighborhoods and support local initiatives. 

Another way to pull on local customers’ heartstrings is to show you’re active in the community. Consider providing a discount or sponsoring a specific audience. If your business is committed to the environment, maybe 5% of every sale could go to the high school’s recycling club vs. giving 5% to a faraway place where locals won’t see the impact.


4. Customers love to be remembered.

Look, no one on Amazon is going to ask you how your grandkids are. People love small businesses because of how they’re treated. This Shop Small Saturday, take a moment to introduce yourself to your community and make connections.

It likely takes a few visits and conversations with a customer before you can start to put a name to a face and they start feeling the sense of community you offer. Don’t just hope customers come back so you can keep connecting, ensure it by creating an upcoming event and personally inviting them to it. That way you’ll get them to come back in a couple of weeks vs. a couple of months.

"I think customers like to ‘shop small’ and support local businesses both to support a small business but also to feel more a part of their community. Getting to know your local businesspeople and employees makes people feel more connected and prouder of their community."

- Shelley Stannard, Owner of Flavor Cupcakery


5. Customers love more than your product.

Are there some local businesses near you that you just don’t have the need to go to, but you love what they do? Do you have some businesses that complete the neighborhood because of their iconic sculpture or impressive mural?

What can you do in your shop or outside of it to become a favorite in your neighborhood – even just for photo ops? Even if they don’t stop there, locals can love you for how you contribute to the community. And someday, something may come up where they do need something you sell or could refer someone who does. Simply bringing a smile to your neighborhood is one of the strongest marketing tactics out there.

From what goes into your products and services to the photo ops you provide, shoppers have big expectations. But one thing is for sure: small knows how to deliver. Our team at M&T hopes you embrace the season and find ways to bring joy to your customers. May you continue to bring smiles to our blocks on Shop Small Saturday and beyond!


The content of this page is for informational purposes only. It is not designed or intended to provide financial, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice since such advice always requires consideration of individual circumstances. Please consult with the professionals of your choice to discuss your situation.