Today is White Saturday: #ShopSmall

Tom Van Dyke

Tom Van Dyke, businessman, musician, bon vivant and game-show champ (The Joker's Wild, and Win Ben Stein's Money), knows lots of stuff, although not quite everything yet. A past inactive to The American Spectator Online, the late great Reform Club blog, and currently on religion and the American Founding at American Creation, TVD continues to write on matters of both great and small importance from his ranch type style tract house high on a hill above Los Angeles.

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21 Responses

  1. Herb says:

    I’m not sure I get why this is “strange.” Care to explain it?Report

    • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Herb says:

      Not at the moment, Brother Herb. Got some serious cashing in to do on AmEx’s dime. Your small business shopping suggestions are welcomed! Power tools? Marital aids? Some combination of both? A 10-incher with a 3/16 reversible bit?Report

      • Herb in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        Keeping in the spirit of the season, I think you should clearly buy something for me. A pair of cowboy boots, size 12 wide.

        Thanks in advance.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:


        I participated in this promotion last year and was very impressed with the efforts of AMEX. I can’t speak to their motivations; I am sure it is more than the development of “warm fuzzies” but, hey, I think this accomplishes a good thing.

        I used it to visit a local eatery. Restaurants often have some of the slimmest margins and, as a foodie, I think the homogenization of food is a bigger issue than “Mom & Pop” stores being relegated to little more than nostalgia. So, if there is a local eatery nearby, especially one taking risks that can use the customer base and positive feedback (provided it is deserved), that is what I’d recommend. That is what we plan to do. It also injects more money into the economy. Rather than simply spend $25 on something we would have spent it on anyway and get the money back, we are going to spend an ADDITIONAL $25 today eating out, something we probably wouldn’t d otherwise. Win-win-win, right?Report

  2. BlaiseP says:

    Amex has to do something, what with fewer folks having Amex cards in their wallets and therefore fewer merchants taking those cards. They’re now partnering with Walmart on the Blue Card, so hoi-polloi can put their money into Amex’s pocket.

    It’s all very silly. Want to really help a small merchant out? Pay cash for your purchases. That way he doesn’t get stuck with the merchant fee on your transaction.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to BlaiseP says:

      As someone who has held/holds a variety of credit cards, I can always say that whatever inconvenience exists with AMEX’s limited acceptance is made up for in their customer service, something I consider important when dealing with a bank or other financial institution. Add in that AMEX is more widely accepted than in the past and the inconvenience is often overstated.

      I don’t pay cash for items primarily because I don’t do well carrying cash. I often end up spending it needlessly because it is there. Perhaps this is selfish, but I have to take care of home first. So while a business might prefer to have me pay cash, they are still better served when I use my card because I otherwise would not shop there. The few exceptions are those which hold a monopoly; the only pizza joint worth its salt in my town is cash only so I hit the ATM on the way there. If their pizza wasn’t so much better than the place that takes card, they likely wouldn’t get my business. But most shop owners aren’t so well positioned.

      Free market or something, right?Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy says:

        Learned a simple rule about spending cash: carry a notebook and write down your cash expenditures. Receipts end up stacking up in your wallet: they’re no help.

        Credit card firms take a mighty bite out of the merchant’s lunch. I generally ponder a purchase before returning to actually buy it. Once I’ve made up my mind, it’s just a matter of getting the cash, as with your pizza. As you say, most merchants aren’t so well positioned but all of them will gratefully put your cash in their till.Report

    • Lyle in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Of course amex used to have a mechanism to get folks to leave money with them the travelers check. Quite often one would end a trip with a few left and they were kept for future use, so free money for amex. I happen to have for example about $100 cdn in canadian dollar travelers checks from a trip in 1981. Many folks essentially leave it to the executors to cash their remaining travelers checks in. Now days the travelers check is fading away of course, but a number of years ago it was a good way to carry cash when traveling.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    I remember when nobody called it “Black Friday” except in hushed tones.Report

  4. Rufus F. says:

    I wonder how much of the inspiration, if any, came from the Record Store Days. I found that idea interesting, but not terribly promising, and came to find out from record store owners I know that it was a great boost for them.Report

  5. Haven't made up a name yet says:

    So, um, anyone else wondering where “White Saturday” came from? ‘It’s like Black Friday, but not as violent.’ No, couldn’t be that.Report

  6. James Hanley says:

    I don’t get this shop small business mania. If they have what I want at a price point I want, I’ll buy from them. If they don’t, I won’t. I’m not going to buy local just to keep mom-n-pop stores in business–they have to have something I actually want. Around here, the local retailers tend to specialize in kitschy country knick knacks; they could all go bust and I wouldn’t notice. I do like our local restaurants, though, but I patronize them because they’re good, not because they’re locally owned.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to James Hanley says:

      I tend to agree with this, with the exception of restaurants. I think the homogenization of food that can/does result from an overreliance on chain restaurants is a real cost that ought to be factored in to the decisions we make about where to eat. I don’t explicitly avoid chain places, but sometimes I will think, “A Big Mac sounds good but I should hit up the local diner every now and then because if that place goes, there will be no where to get an omelette. A Big Mac will always be available.”

      In there usual sophomoric way, Cracked tackled this very issue recently. See #5:

      This isn’t to say that I’m OPPOSED to small businesses. There are pros and cons to shopping at small, locally owned stores just as there are at big box stores. For some purchases, the small business is preferable; for most, I find it is not.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Kazzy says:

        Oh, I’m not opposed to small businesses at all. I love the local garden shop in my town, and I’m more like,y to go there for my gardening needs than Lowes, even though I shop Lowes weekly. They have more variety in plants, more knowledgeable employees, and a good price point. In general, local small businesses can compete with the megamarts–their special niche is service as opposed to price.Report

    • Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

      Once upon a time, the point of shopping local (and small) instead of at a big chain was the personalization. I imagine in some small towns, you still get that, but in cities it’s pretty rare since neighborhood are constantly in flux so it’s hard to really establish a relationship with local vendors to the extent needed for really personalized service.Report