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Small Businesses Step Out Of Black Friday's Shadow

"You always have to have something different on the two days after Thanksgiving to get customers in," he says.

A search of the special web page set up for Small Business Saturday reveals many businesses that most people don't think of as places to buy gifts, including restaurants and dry cleaners taking part. One such business, Dublin Cleaners in Dublin, Ohio, has experienced a sharp increase in business over the last three years on what is typically the store's slowest day of the year. Owner Brian Butler says customers want to take advantage of the $25 rebate. Last year, his Saturday after Thanksgiving revenue was up 300 percent from the same day in 2009, before Small Business Saturday began. The revenue increase was enough to offset the $4,000 to $5,000 in transaction fees he paid to American Express for the year.

Although the Thanksgiving weekend is shopping-focused, American Express purposely created the program so that any small businesses could take part. The company has found that restaurants are the top choice for consumers wanting to use the $25 rebate, followed by bakeries, clothing stores, gift shops and bookstores.

Butler isn't offering any discounts on dry cleaning, but uses the $25 savings from American Express as a way to build his customer base. He starts by sending e-mails to customers and advertises on Facebook and Twitter about the savings. One Tweet reads: "AmEx will pay your tab in our store. No strings!!!"

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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