First there was "Black Friday," then "Cyber Monday." Now, for the first time, is "Small Business Saturday" --a day to remind shoppers to support local merchants and the local economy.

City officials in association with American Express are encouraging shoppers this Saturday to patronize the nation's small businesses and are partnering with business owners and associations across the country to get shoppers through the doors.

Click here for more on Facebook's Small Business Saturday page.

Small Business Saturday is sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday -- traditionally two of the year's busiest shopping days. New York City was the first city to declare the day, earlier this month.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the glue that holds communities together, and we've always sought new ways to support them -- something that became even more important when the national economic downturn began," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino also signed a proclamation formalizing the day.  

“We always want to remind folks that this holiday season – and year round – the neighborhoods are full of unique gift options. I certainly hope Bostonians will join me in shopping locally at our small businesses on Saturday, November 27th," he said.

In Illinois, where there are more than 500,000 small businesses, retailers and merchants in the state, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is teaming with American Express on the promotion. 

Independent retailers, especially the mom-and-pop shops, says that they have really struggled in the economic downturn.  

The federal government says the nation's 28 million small businesses created 65 percent of new jobs.  According to U.S. Small Business Administration, small firms represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms and employ half of all private-sector employees.

Organizers say Cyber Monday did not catch on immediately, and while Small Business Saturday may not succeed overnight, they're hoping it won't be just a "flash in the pan."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click here to register and receive a $25 cash American Express gift card to be used at local retailers.