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Do your community good – on Nov. 25, shop small

By: Ellen Lampe

The United States wouldn’t be what it is today without the little guys – the “mom and pop” small businesses all over the country that have sprouted out of the American Dream.

In reality, the little guys are not really little at all. Coffee shops, boutiques, restaurants, pet stores, repair shops, corner stores and markets – the list goes on and on. They keep our country running, boost the economy and contribute to a substantial part of the workforce. But they need their fellow Americans to support them in order for them to thrive. That’s why Small Business Saturday was created.

American Express began the movement in 2010 on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It was a way for the “little guys” to compete with Black Friday. But boy, has it grown.

In 2016, American Express determined that Small Business Saturday attracted roughly 112 million shoppers who spent about $15.4 billion.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration [SBA], there are about 28.8 million small businesses in the country. Those small businesses account for about 99.7 percent of all businesses and about 64 percent of new jobs in the U.S. It should be noted that the SBA defines a small business as having anywhere from 0 to 500 employees – which probably is much broader than what most people envision when they think of a small business. Regardless, the benefits of shopping small are abundant.

Here’s why we all should shop small:

• A Bureau of Labor Statistics report from 2016 states that about 50 percent of small businesses survive their first five years in business. Their success relies on whether customers decide to shop small.

• Studies show that by shopping at a local, small business, you’re supporting your neighborhood at the same time. A larger percentage of what you spend remains in your local economy [see infographic below]. Businesses pay sales tax to the city and county in which they are located, and those tax dollars are used to support parks, schools, roads, etc. If you shop online or at a bigger business based elsewhere, fewer of those dollars stay local.

• Smaller businesses have the unique ability to relate to customers on a more personal level due to their quaint atmosphere and desire to keep customers happy and returning time after time. Smaller businesses also are typically much more receptive to customers’ requests and needs.

• Many small businesses give back to their communities by donating to charitable organizations. Local businesses often help advertise for events and fundraisers or donate a portion of their profits to deserving causes.

• As more small businesses thrive, more jobs are created.

• Small businesses are the community. The owners and employees of small businesses are your neighbors, your fellow PTO members and members of your church congregation. They, like you,  are invested in your community.

So, next time you’re craving a coffee or deciding where to grab a bite to eat, choose local and encourage your friends to do the same. There are countless reasons to show your support.

On Nov. 25, remember to use #ShopSmall and #SmallBusinessSaturday on social media. Post about your favorite local spots. Help your community thrive.

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