NEW YORK (AP) — New York is trying to help independent merchants by pioneering Small Business Saturday on the weekend between Black Friday (News - Alert) and Cyber Monday — traditionally two of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Business owners who signed up get $100 worth of Facebook advertising, financed by American Express (News - Alert), which also promised $25 credit to 100,000 clients using their cards Saturday at small shops and boutiques.
"Black Friday is mostly for big stores, so it's nice to have an incentive to shop in your own neighborhood," said Kari Johnson, manager of Whisk, a cookware store with two venues, in Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. "We're doing it to get people out to shop locally."
A sign on the counter informs customers about the program, which requires registration.
The plan was launched earlier this month by Mayor Michael Bloomberg (News - Alert) and American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault.
Bloomberg calls small businesses "the backbone of our economy and the glue that holds communities together."
Word about Small Business Saturday was spread on Facebook (News - Alert) and Twitter.
Participants included the Crawford Doyle Booksellers on Manhattan's East Side.
Manager Thomas Talbot said he didn't think many New Yorkers had heard about the first Small Business Saturday.
"But I feel that if people really knew about it, they'd be getting a free book — paid for with the $25 credit — and they might buy another one," he said. "That's an incentive that would work on me."
Matthew Slotkin, a Manhattan resident looking at Crawford's window display, said he wasn't aware of the campaign. But the 33–year–old Slotkin said he prefers independent stores and would support any efforts to help them.
"I like small stores," he said. "It offers you more personal service."
In announcing the program, Chenault said he didn't expect it to catch on as a trend overnight.
"It's not a flash in the pan," he said, adding that American Express was "committed to this effort for years to come."