Laura Gould remembers the first American Express Small Business Saturday three years ago, and how most just talked about it being a nice idea.
The second year, things blew up.
“It was enormously huge,” Gould said.
Saturday was the third annual Small Business Saturday and Gould, owner of Sanctuary in Nyack, saw the day continue to grow even more.
“It’s just a day when people are excited to support our town,” she said.
Gould said the event has grown to a point that on Saturday, many people shopping at her store weren’t even using American Express cards. As part of Small Business Saturday, American Express offered a $25 gift card to those who enroll their eligible American Express card and then use it to make a purchase of $25 or more at a participating store.
“There’s a message being sent,” Gould said. “People were coming out to support local business and that overshadowed the type of credit card they were using while doing it.”
She added that a lot of people stopped in to buy holiday gifts and have them gift wrapped, while others were just doing some regular shopping. And others stopped in simply to talk and say how exciting Small Business Saturday is.
Gould is appreciative of American Express holding the day.
“There’s definitely a divide between big corporations and small businesses,” she said. “This is a step in the right direction.”
The increased shopping also extended to restaurants. Max Crisp, owner of American Burrito in New City, said his restaurant was busier on Saturday than it would’ve normally been.
“We’ve definitely had people come in, use their cards and mention Small Business Saturday,” he said. “Some people have said they’ve been around town doing holiday shopping and using their card all over.”
Crisp said the idea to offer a tangible incentive, such as the $25 gift card, was a good idea in helping bring people out. He added he’s especially thankful for the day given the time of year.
“For a heavy shopping weekend when so many people spend hours at malls, the local business has definitely been stronger,” Crisp said.
Still, not all business saw an increase in business from Small Business Saturday. Rob Ohnikian, owner of Pearl River’s Bicycle Depot, said nobody came in on Saturday and mentioned Small Business Saturday even though his store participated in the event.
“My business isn’t as productive during the holiday season as it might’ve used to be,” he said. “We’re more seasonal. Kids now want electronics and things like that for the holidays instead of bicycles, which used to be more of a traditional holiday gift. So even an event like [Small Business Saturday] isn’t going to help too much.”