Small Business Saturday Success

little boxesAs a retailer who has just lived through the ups and downs of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and all of the holiday shopping season, at Independent Retailer, we’re guessing you’d like to hear a little bit about what other retailers are doing – successfully! Enter Betsy Cross, co-owner and creative director of Betsy & iya, a funky Portland, OR, boutique specializing in jewelry, gifts, accessories and bath & body products.

Five years ago, Cross and her partner, Will Cervarich, decided to take the Portland area’s downtown shopping scene to the next level and created a Black Friday and Small Business Saturday event for local retail shops, including their own.

They called the event ‘Little Boxes’ and built it around the dynamic concept of combining an enormous prize raffle and cross-promotional store discounts. The first event was an instant hit with the Portland shopping crowd, quickly establishing itself as a local tradition.

How does it work? Cross and Cervarich first visited local shops and pitched the idea, with many stores quickly signing on for the first year, and many more jumping in every year thereafter.  Each shop agrees to honor a 10% discount to shoppers who join the program, and the shops also agree to donate raffle prizes, which span a huge range from travel packages and electronics, to other big-ticket items. 

Each shopper either uses a paper ‘passport,’ available at all participating stores, or they can download the Little Boxes app onto their smart phones, and enter the raffles electronically. Whether via paper or digital, as shoppers visit the participating stores, they accrue raffle tickets/entries and turn them in before the drawings are held on the Monday following Thanksgiving.

Each storeowner promotes the program in-store and on social media channels, and the program has it’s own web site, which can be found at

How is the program doing? In 2016, 217 local shops participated in the Little Boxes Portland program, and in 2015, Cross found that the app and paper passports generated over 46 thousand people entering the raffle over the course of nearly 23 thousand shop visits and generated more than seven thousand purchases. And in dollars and cents? The 2015 numbers totaled over $550,000 in revenue for the participating stores. 2016 totals are still coming in, but Cross fully anticipates the revenue figures from this year to beat last year.

The Little Boxes program has been so successful in Portland, that Cross has developed a package that is available for sale to other towns and cities. In 2016  they debuted in Seattle, and plan to continue to spread their local-first business approach to other cities throughout the United States.

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