From The






From The


Shop Small This Saturday

Growing up, my family owned a small business. My mom had her own veterinary practice and my dad helped to manage the business side of things. My first job was actually as a receptionist in the clinic and my brother helped clean kennels. It was truly a full family affair. I loved the way this business connected us to our community. We were there to experience the joy and excitement when pets came home to new families and were there to help them grieve when their beloved animals went on to play in the big park in the sky.   

Ever since, I’ve always had a love and appreciation for small businesses. I have had the pleasure of working for many over the years – including a family-owned daycare, family-owned restaurants, and, of course, Leadership Inspirations! You can learn more about our small business story, here.

I’m telling you all of this because this week there is a day entirely dedicated to supporting small businesses and their owners. Small Business Saturday is wedged between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which this year falls on Saturday, November 28th. This holiday was actually started as an American Express campaign in 2010 that was meant to encourage shoppers to shop at small, local organizations. The day became officially recognized in 2011, and now, an estimated 104 million American consumers spend almost $17.7 billion dollars supporting local retailers and restaurants on this day. 

Why is this day important? Why should we shop local?

To start, small businesses account for 44% of economic activity in the United States. That’s incredible, especially because for every dollar spent at a local business, 67 cents stays directly in the local economy. This is important because local spending increases the economic health of a community. Small businesses also help their communities to thrive by creating meaningful jobs for locals and encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation. Finally, small businesses are extensions of the people who run them – our friends, family, and neighbors who have dedicated themselves to serving the community through their work. 

This year, many of these businesses have been challenged due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, 87% of small business owners say they are struggling. But, we as fellow community members can do a lot to support them this holiday season. Here are some ideas on how you can help:

  • Instead of turning to corporate conglomerates for your holiday shopping, choose a local retailer instead. Many local businesses have launched online stores in response to shelter-in-place guidelines so that shoppers can make purchases safely from home. If they don’t have a website, you may still be able to call to see if they are able to sell curbside pickup or arrange for delivery. 
  • Use the American Express Shop Small Map to find local businesses to support in your community (note that only businesses that accept AE credit cards will be listed here but it’s still a great place to start!).
  • Buy gift cards this season. Gift card purchases are a great way to give businesses immediate cash flow that can help them to make payroll or cover overhead costs while business is affected. 
  • Order takeout. Many of your favorite family-owned restaurants are offering delivery and takeout options. This is a safe alternative to dining in and can support restaurants as well as gig workers. 
  • Take online classes from local gyms, studios, and more. Many of these organizations that have had to shut down are offering virtual classes – sign up for yoga or a paint night!
  • If you are financially able to, tip service workers a little extra for their hard work. Many of these people rely on tips to make minimum wage so a little extra can go a long way when dining out or getting your haircut. 
  • Lastly, an entirely free way that you can support this season is to provide small business shout outs on social media or by leaving positive reviews online. Do you know anyone who owns their own business? Are any of your favorite shops or stores locally owned and operated? Now is the time to hype these businesses up so that people know that they are there and ready for your local community. 

Making changes in our shopping habits can greatly impact the individuals who run local businesses as well as the communities that they are a part of. So this holiday season (and beyond!), consider shopping small to make a big difference.

*Leadership Lesson*

This week, look at your holiday shopping list and see which items you think you can purchase from locally owned and operated organizations. For example, I have a piece of artwork that I am going to have framed for a friend and instead of going to Michaels or Joann, I am going to choose a local mom and pop shop to have the work done. It might take a little more research, but it is going to support businesses and families that are foundational parts of the place I call home. 

*Meet the Author*


Caelan Cooney is the Operations Manager for Leadership Inspirations. She got her start in leadership as a high school DECA student and went on to graduate from Chapman University with degrees in Business Management and Integrated Educational Studies. As a regular contributor to From the Balcony, her favorite topics to explore are personality theory, group development, and conflict management. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and listening to podcasts.

Favorite Quote: “I am still learning” – Michelangelo

Fun Facts: 1) I once bought a goat on Craigslist 2) I am afraid of escalators 3) My life goal is to give a TedTalk