Working with our local high school honor society and student council, we provided two hours of childcare to enable parents to shop locally without their children on Small Business Saturday . Relying on volunteers helped us carry out an event on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, when staffing can be tricky.
We showed the newly released-to-DVD movie "Finding Dory" with popcorn and hot chocolate followed by a craft: “countdown to Christmas” paper chains.
Our goals for this program were to promote Small Business Saturday and the Shop Small® movement to our community. We wanted to encourage parents/adults to shop locally when buying presents for their children.
We started planning the program in September after getting an email about Small Business Saturday. Planning was done by our library director and youth services staff member. We signed up at ShopSmall.com/ALA  for the Neighborhood Champion program.
We decided to reach out to the local high school and see if members of the honor society and student council needed volunteer hours and would be interested in providing the childcare. They were excited for the opportunity.
We looked at which movies were being released in November to select a child-appropriate movie. We then looked at a variety of crafts relating to either the movie “Finding Dory” or a seasonal craft. We decided on “countdown” paper chains, which could be done by a variety of ages.
The only challenge we encountered was getting the movie. It was released 10 days before our program date, and we didn’t think it would be a problem when we scheduled and publicized what we were showing. But we discovered on Tuesday before our Saturday showing — with Thanksgiving in between — that our order hadn’t been completed. We had to scramble to find a copy available in our small town (with only one store to buy new DVDs).
We emailed PDFs of the flier and bookmark to our chamber of commerce, which printed and distributed copies to local businesses. We put up fliers in the library and community center. We printed copies of the bookmark and sent to the elementary school for distribution to students in grades K through 5.
We also created a Facebook event and shared the event to the library page as well a local event Facebook page. Though the turnout ended up being a bit low, we created a lot of buzz.
We bought popcorn and hot chocolate for this program. We also used construction paper, tape and glue sticks for the paper chains. An annual film license from Movie Licensing USA allows us to show films legally. If you wanted to do this program on a very low budget, you could save money by not offering food or getting the food donated.
On the day of the program we set up our meeting room with our projector, chairs and mats for watching the movie and tables (one for refreshments and two for the craft). The craft project preparation (cutting construction paper in strips and gathering supplies) was completed prior to the day of the program. Only one staff member was needed to run the movie as we had 10 high school volunteers providing the childcare.
Volunteers arrived about 15 minutes before the program began. We gave them brief instruction about what was needed from them (keep kids happy, provide refreshment assistance as needed and then help with craft).
As families arrived to drop off their children, volunteers greeted children, helped them stash outerwear, get popcorn and hot chocolate and select a seat. We ended up with 10 children: four families dropped off their children, and two additional families of children under 5 stayed and watched. This gave us a one-to-one ratio of volunteers and children.
The movie started shortly after 10:30 a.m. Following the movie volunteers showed the kids how to do the craft, and with assistance, each of them created a paper chain. Parents arrived to pick up children, volunteer hour sheets were signed, and the projector was put away. The program was completed by 1 p.m.
The feedback we received from parents who shopped was very appreciative. The chamber of commerce did a post-Small Business Saturday Shop Local survey, and businesses were glad we had helped promote the day. The chamber documented a significant uptake in revenue to local businesses that day.
Staffing and/or volunteers could be an issue for this program as it is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We designed the program to minimize staffing requirements, yet support our local businesses and encourage families to use our services. Give yourself plenty of time to line up the help needed before promoting the program.
About This Library
International Falls Public Library is located along the northern edge of Minnesota, a stone’s throw from Canada. We are the only public library, with a FTE of 5.4, in a geographically large, rural county of about 12,000. Our community has a paper mill with a dwindling number of employees, so many entities in the community are working together to encourage small business development.