Mary Cervantes

Mary Cervantes is a columnist for the Napa Valley Register.

J.L. Sousa/Register

Black Friday sales now start on Thanksgiving at most big-box stores, but shoppers may find today, Small Business Saturday, to be more their speed.

Ever since American Express launched Small Business Saturday six years ago, businesses in areas where Small Business Saturday is celebrated have experienced an increase in sales.

Last year, according to the post-holiday survey released by National Federation of Independent Business and American Express, 95 million Americans reported shopping at small businesses on Small Business Saturday, and they spent more than $16 billion, an increase of 14 percent from the previous year.

“Small business represents 99.7 percent of all U.S. employers, and they provide jobs for 58 million Americans,” said National Federation of Independent Business/CA State Executive Director Tom Scott.

“For many local retail businesses, the holiday shopping season is a make-or-break time, and Americans who want to support their communities and the economy should remember to shop small.”

Good news is 83 percent of consumers say Small Business Saturday inspires them to Shop Small all year long.

Holiday marketing for small businesses should start well before Small Business Saturday.

Businesses that have built strong relationships throughout the year with their customers have a more successful holiday marketing campaign and increase sales.

Knowing your target market will not only help create holiday promotion ideas that are effective and drive sales, but also to stay in touch with customer preferences and purchasing habits throughout the year.

Being a local small business gives you a competitive edge, but only if consumers in your area are aware you exist.

It’s important that your business is top-of-mind when consumers start thinking about holiday shopping so that you make the list of places they want to visit.

To the Napa consumer, advantages of shopping at a local small business go beyond helping our independent businesses. You are helping your community.

By shopping or dining at small businesses throughout the year, you’re showing your support for all the small businesses in your neighborhood and reinvesting in the community you call home.

Anything you can do helps to give Napa small businesses the support they need to keep creating jobs and invigorating the community.

As a customer or small business owner, being a part of a powerful movement to support small businesses isn’t just a trend to take part in, but a movement worth embracing.

If you are a small business owner interested in tips on how to market your business for this holiday season, visit the Small Business Administration’s website: or the American Marketing Association at for creative promotional ideas.

To build your holiday marketing strategy for 2017, contact the Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center to work with a professional Business Advisor. Call (707) 256-7250 or request services at

Mary Cervantes is the business services director for Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center. Reach her at 256-7253 or