The morning after Thanksgiving may be the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, but more and more shoppers are bypassing the malls to find unique gifts and support their friends and neighbors on Small Business Saturday.

“If you’re an independent merchant, you can’t afford to skip Small Business Saturday. Last year, shoppers spent $15.4 billion at locally-owned stores and restaurants on Small Business Saturday, which was a 13 percent increase over the previous year,” said Riley Johnson, Montana state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, citing statistics from a survey by NFIB and American Express. “It isn’t too late for small businesses to make the most of Small Business Saturday,” said Johnson, who offered six tips for doing so:

Remind shoppers that you sell merchandise they can’t find anyplace else. Sixty-one percent of shoppers say they shop at small businesses to find “unique products,” according to NFIB.

Showcase the merchandise that would make a great gift. Group items on a table with a sign saying it would be the perfect gift for Dad or a great gift for the grandparents. Restaurants can offer Small Business Saturday specials and gift cards.

Steal a page from the Black Friday playbook and offer doorbusters. Chain stores know a great way to drive shoppers to their stores is by offering special deals at different times of the day. There’s no reason a small business can’t do the same thing.

Stay on top of your social media. If you’re on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest, post often and promote any Small Business Saturday deals. Use the hashtags #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSaturday so shoppers can find you easily.

Partner with other merchants to buy advertising promoting the neighborhood as a shopping destination or team up with other businesses on in-store promotions. For example, if they buy a pair of shoes here, let them know they can save 10 percent on socks next door.

Promote the event to your regular customers. Put a sign in your shop and flyers in bags reminding folks to come back the Saturday after Thanksgiving for special deals. Download free “Shop Small” signs from American Express.

With 350,000 dues-paying members nationwide, including 5,200 in Montana, NFIB is the nation’s largest and leading small-business association. You can follow NFIB on Twitter, NFIB_MT, or on this webpage,