If you’re a small business owner, you’re probably familiar with Small Business Saturday®, created by American Express in 2010 as a day dedicated to supporting small businesses across the country. Soon after, the Shop Small movement emerged to celebrate small businesses that help our communities thrive year round.
Last year, Valpak® also began offering Shop Small marketing solutions that included Shop Small branding on the iconic Blue Envelope®, coupon offers and online.
This year, for the first time ever, Valpak and American Express joined forces to develop the 2017 Shop Small Contest to give consumers an opportunity to recognize their favorite neighborhood small business for exceptional service, community involvement, product offering, and all around contribution to their neighborhood. Each nominated business had the opportunity to receive well-deserved recognition and support, win an annual Valpak marketing plan and an American Express Gift Card for up to $5,000.
Consumers from around the U.S. submitted entries for their favorite small businesses. The 2017 Shop Small Contest winners, and highlights from their nominations, include:
GRAND PRIZE WINNER
Business: Saturn Booksellers
Owner: Jill Miner
Location: Gaylord, MI
- “It’s a staple in the community, a safe haven for ideas and opinions, and just the all-around coolest place to come hang out.”
- “The store participates in local fundraisers, gives discounts to libraries and teachers, and bring in bestselling authors.”
- “They pay attention to the wants and needs of the community. They support other local businesses and events.”
- “It is no surprise they’ve been able to stick around for 25 years.”
SECONDARY PRIZE WINNERS
Business: The Columbus Idea Foundry
Owner: Alex Bandar
Location: Columbus, OH
- “The Columbus Idea Foundry provides a unique opportunity for hobbyists and budding entrepreneurs to gain hands-on experience with a wide range of skills.”
- “The Idea Foundry is helping to revitalize this area into an arts district and has become the anchor point around which new restaurants and galleries can form.”
- “They offer a Family Maker Night series with STEM-oriented projects, which I think is a great way to get kids interested in building technology.”
Business: Baxter & Me
Owner: Channing Baxter
Location: Corinth, MS
- “[Channing Baxter] gives generously, helping her community. She gave 100% of an entire month of proceeds from sales of a t-shirt she artistically created using a local little girl who has cancer as a model. She also donated 10% of the sales of the ‘Grace Wins’ t-shirt for a second month.”
- “I love that she always tries to use local artists, or feature local items, such as the goat milk soap.”
Business: Club MMA
Owner: Jeff Robison
Location: Cincinnati, OH
- “It helps kids who need structure and discipline. It helps adults who need more motivation, and gives them a place to find others in the same spot. This place makes my town better, and it’s as much the people who teach as it is what is taught.”
- “They’ve also given back to my community by building a responsible team of young people, a team who’ll will be going out into the world and trying to make it for themselves soon. Those kids would all tell you that they have gotten more from Club MMA than they could ever have imagined in the beginning.”
- “The staff and coaches are really the difference makers though. They make you feel welcome and help you learn at your own pace.”
- “They are community. They are our neighborhood heroes, and what they do for us can’t really be done justice with typed words.”
Shop Small Contest Background
Online nominations were accepted from January 30, 2017 through April 15, 2017. Entries were judged and scored based on the entrants’ responses to:
- What made the small business special (50%)
- The energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and passion of the business (25%)
- Overall impression of the business (15%)
- The business’s positive impact on their community (10%)
Valpak and American Express selected the business with the highest cumulative score as the grand prize winner of a $5,000 American Express Gift Card and a 12-month Valpak marketing campaign. Three additional nominated businesses scoring the next highest cumulative scores will receive a prize of a $1,000 American Express Gift Card and a 3-month Valpak marketing campaign. The entrant who nominated the grand prize winner will also receive a $5,000 American Express Gift Card. Finally, all three entrants with winning secondary nominees will receive a $1,000 American Express Gift Card.
The Real Winners
It’s true the 2017 Shop Small Contest small businesses selected are obvious winners, duly deserving of funds to support their business and marketing to make them stronger. But, in the end, the real winners are the customers and the communities they call home.
Small business owners keep America strong. They are the fabric of our country. According to the Small Business Administration:
- The 28 million small businesses in America account for 54% of all U.S. sales.
- Small businesses provide 55% of all jobs and 66% of all net new jobs since the 1970s.
- The 600,000 plus franchised small businesses in the U.S. account for 40% of all retail sales and provide jobs for some 8 million people.
Valpak and American Express Love Small Businesses
Valpak provides effective business marketing that meets the unique needs of small business owners, including direct mail, print, and digital marketing, as well as a proprietary way of tracking campaign performance for campaign enhancements.
Additionally, when you welcome American Express® Cards at your business, you gain access to free opportunities to reach potential new customers. Get started by visiting marketingcorner.americanexpress.com.
Interested in accepting American Express Cards? Sign up with OptBlue® for a faster, easier way to accept the Card. Learn more at OptBlue.com.