Power to Small Businesses

There they were, “Small for All,” three little words blown up to gigantic headline proportions and set against a stark white background in full-page newspaper ads expressly designed to grab readers’ attention.

The slogan, part of a national “Small Business Saturday” campaign rolled out with great fanfare on Nov. 27 by the small business division of American Express, was brilliant, and so was the message: help your favorite local businesses start booming.

For all of you who actually are small businesses, it’s a no-brainer, right? But consumers sometimes need an extra nudge, and from a preliminary report of the results that just landed on my desk, the Small Business Saturday concept is packing a wallop.

Consider the following:

  • 1.2 million people joined the shop small business movement and helped spread the word by “liking” Small Business Saturday on Facebook.
  • Nearly 30,000 tweets, including messages by consumers spreading the word about the national movement and by businesses promoting offers they created specifically for the day, were sent using the hashtags #smallbusinesssaturday and #smallbizsaturday.
  • More than 100,000 small business owners downloaded point-of-purchase and promotional materials from the Small Business Saturday Facebook page.

Now what do all those numbers mean? That “small for all” is really resonating with consumers who see the need to support the small business owners who are getting our economy going again. The real test will be to keep that initial “Small Business Saturday” momentum going all through the year.

Which leads me straight to NICHE magazine’s 2010 Top Retailers, a very special group of small business owners who have mastered the art of getting shoppers through their doors, no matter what the retail climate.

For 2010 Retailer of the Year Donna Milstein, success is the result of 30 years of setting Hanson Galleries apart from the competition through careful inventory selection, energetic merchandising and attentive customer service. For top retailers Joanne and Peter Hildt of Pinnacle Gallery, it means holding fast to their identity as a contemporary craft gallery in a marketplace saturated with Western and Native American art. And for top retailer Sandy Sardella of Pismo Fine Art Glass, it is a willingness to continually measure what her customers want, then tailor the art offerings in each of her four retail locations to meet—and exceed—their expectations.

No one gallery tackles sales and marketing in exactly the same way, yet all are supremely successful. A full report on the secrets and strategies of every one of the 2010 top craft retailers, compiled by NICHE associate editor Claire Patterson Blome, starts on page 51.

We extend congratulations to our winners, and thanks to American Express for the amazingly big boost it’s given to small (for all!) business.

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