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Small Business Saturday has big impact on Chicago-area shops, service providers

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November 30th is the 48th Saturday of the year, but there’s a much bigger picture than that occurring across the Chicago area and the rest of the United States: it’s Small Business Saturday.

At first glance, you might see irony in the fact that the day geared toward exhorting shoppers to patronize small business is the brainchild of American Express, a multibillion-dollar titan.

In truth, the “multibillion” designation only hints at its magnitude: in 2012, the company recorded $888 billion in worldwide billed business (spending on American Express® Cards, including Cards issued by third parties).

Scratch a bit beneath the surface, though, and consider that much of that astronomical tally flows from small businesses. American Express, then, is a huge business with a mind-boggling array of tiny roots. Likewise, it behooves any small business—and these can include operations that are well beyond mom-and-pop proportions and have hundreds of employees—to market the day as the post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping sprint begins in earnest.

You need not have a retail storefront to tap into the Small Business Saturday movement. Service providers, from computer repair shops to massage therapists, are very much in the mix. So are home-based businesses, which are rising in popularity for a variety of reasons, including the flexibility it affords for those who need to balance other family needs, such as providing care for older or younger relatives.

Health and beauty products are especially attractive niches for those seeking to augment their income. Through seminars and other training tools, World Wide DreamBuilders and other Amway Approved Providers give ample opportunity, through the Nutrilite and ARTISTRY brands in particular, to those seeking to launch their own small business.

Like so many multi-level marketing businesses, Amway for years has added online shopping to the mix. If your business is not already online, it may well be time to incorporate that shopping component, then promote it heavily to tap into the eco-consciousness of the marketplace.

That was the angle voiced this Tuesday by Michelle Donat, owner of Relaxation Plantation in Oak Park, the near-west suburb of Chicago. In a savvy move, she reminded members of her local business-networking group, OPRF Partners, of the online purchasing option on her website.

(OPRF Partners is a chapter of Business Network International, a renowned organization that for nearly 30 years has helped thousands of small-business owners to flourish through its principle of “givers gain"--last year to the tune of more than $3.3 billion.)

Another incentive that small businesses should not overlook: the cause-and-effect relationship between shopping locally and retaining those shops that offer convenience and a personal touch well beyond anything that “big box” retailers could offer. As the statement declares near the entrance to CarefulPeach Boutique, a shop in Downtown Oak Park: “If you buy here, we will be here.”

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