In preparation for holiday shopping, small locally owned businesses are once again being encouraged to participate in what has become one of the Billings Chamber of Commerce’s most popular programs – “Shop Small” on “Small Business Saturday,” November 25.

It’s become so popular in fact that the organizers have found it necessary to make revisions to the monopoly-style game board that has been the central piece of the promotion during its four-year history in Billings.

Businesses are being urged to sign up with the Chamber by November 10, to reserve a spot on the “Shop Small” game board. Each participant must provide $50 worth of Gift Cards in any denomination.

While it is all a lot of fun, the primary purpose behind the promotion is to encourage people to support locally- owned small businesses in their holiday shopping. “You’re a key part in helping small businesses thrive,” explained Kelly McCandless, the Chamber’s Communications & Strategic Priorities Manager, “By shopping or dining at small businesses, you’re showing your support for businesses in our community.”

“The number of participants has just increased so dramatically,” said McCandless. The Chamber is revising the game to increase the number of stores, restaurants, coffee shop, breweries, etc. who may participate. “Last year we had 60 participating businesses which was double the 30 business who participated in the first year (2013).”

“Small Business Saturday has been wildly successful for us,” said McCandless, “It allows us to fold- in a large volume of our members and promote them directly in a fun, out of the box way.”

Nationally, the company that sponsors the game, American Express, reports that 112 million shoppers enjoyed Small Business Saturday in 2016, spending $15.4 billion.

The game actually lasts all weekend. It starts on Saturday, November 25 and shoppers may shop through November 27. Winners are drawn on November 28 and announced December 1.

In addition, said McCandless, “We fold- in other promotions through our social channels and our ‘Elf on the Shelf’ game.” Elk on the Shelf involves taking pictures of stuffed elves in participating businesses with hints as to their location. Followers are challenged with guessing the location.

The Chamber provides each participating business with promotional materials.

Participating businesses are also featured on the game board, the Chamber website and social media outlets.

The game involves customers visiting the shops of participating merchants and having an employee mark their game board, which may be obtained on the Chamber’s website.

Once a player has visited ten businesses, they leave their game board at a participating business to be entered into drawings to win one of the many prize baskets full of goodies from the participating member businesses! (Prizes valued up to $500 each.)

Get details at: https:// www. billingschamber.com/ events/small- business- saturday/.