AmEx promotes ‘Small Business Saturday’

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NEW YORK (AP) — Hoping to drum up support for independent merchants, American Express’ CEO said Monday that his company will promote “Small Business Saturday” on the weekend after Thanksgiving.

“This is the start of a movement,” said Kenneth Chenault, who joined New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a City Hall news conference to announce the effort.

Chenault said that large retailers have Black Friday and online retailers have Cyber Monday, “and now, starting on Nov. 27 of this year, small business owners will have Small Business Saturday.”

Chenault said the first 10,000 small business owners who sign up to participate will get $100 worth of Facebook advertising. American Express will give a $25 credit to 100,000 of its cardholders who pledge to use their cards at independent businesses on Nov. 27.

Bloomberg said small businesses “are the backbone of our economy and the glue that holds communities together.”

American Express will spread the word about Small Business Saturday on Facebook and Twitter, Chenault said.

New York City store managers said they welcomed the program.

“It couldn’t hurt,” said Thomas Talbot, manager of an Upper East Side bookstore called Crawford Doyle Booksellers.

Manager Anne Barker of Coclico, a shoe store in the hip downtown neighborhood of Nolita, said the $25 American Express incentive “will make ‘on-the-fence’ consumers ready to make a purchase that they had been considering for some time.”

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. The following Monday has in recent years been promoted as Cyber Monday for Internet shopping.

Chenault said Cyber Monday did not catch on immediately and Small Business Friday may not succeed overnight.

“This is not a flash in the pan,” he said. “We are committed to this effort for years to come.”