Imagine your neighborhood or city without any of its small, local businesses.
Coffee shops, hair and nail salons, corner stores, spas, boutique clothing stores, consignment shops, restaurants, craft stores, bars, fruit markets, shoe/bike/tire repair shops, laundromats, art supply stores, gift shops, gas stations, pet stores, and more – all gone.
What would be left? What would the streets look like? Desolate, depressing, empty, boring, abandoned… like a regular day on the zombie apocalypse TV show, The Walking Dead?
Just how much of a presence and impact do small businesses have on our communities? The Small Business Administration (SBA) reports 28 million small businesses operating in the U.S. alone. And since 1995, those small businesses have generated 66% of all new jobs in the United States. Small businesses are a big deal.
Which brings us to Small Business Saturday, a nationally recognized holiday held the Saturday after Thanksgiving (U.S.). It has now become a tradition – encouraging holiday shoppers to support local brick-and-mortar businesses rather than big box brands or online-only stores.
What exactly are the benefits of shopping small, and why should you do it on Small Business Saturday, and every day? Here are some huge reasons:
1. Small businesses give back (more) to your community
When you support a local business, you’re also supporting your town, city, and neighborhood. Business pay sales taxes to the city and county the business is located in. Stray to a big box business elsewhere and that money isn’t benefiting your community at all. Plus, that tax money is used to support public schools, parks, roads, and sidewalks, as well as fund public service workers, like firefighters.
What’s more, according to Civic Economics, “on average, 48% of each purchase at local independent businesses is recirculated locally, compared to less than 14% of purchases at chain stores.”
2. Small businesses make a major economic impact
More than half of the U.S.’s jobs since 1995 were created by small businesses. And according to the SBA, since 1990, big businesses eliminated 4 million jobs, while small businesses added 8 million jobs. The more you shop at a local store, the more potential job opportunities you could help them provide.
3. Small businesses provide better customer service
Small business owners strive to survive and one of the biggest advantages they have over large retailers is the ability to provide more personable, hands-on, and memorable customer service.
4. Small businesses provide greater access to product diversity
Small businesses have just as much access to vendors (who also determine pricing, not stores) that big box businesses do. If a small business doesn’t have the products you want or need, ask them – they’re also usually much more receptive and willing to order them for you.
5. Small businesses create a sense of community
You’re much more likely to get to know a small business owner in your neighborhood. According to a study conducted by Trulia and noted in Forbes, the second most popular desire amongst urbanites is a stronger sense of community – number one being more local restaurants.
6. You’re going to feel good
Would you rather feel the pang of guilt buying so-so coffee from Starbucks or a lifeless burger at McDonalds, or be entirely satisfied with your latte made with love from Sextant Coffee Roasters, and a bangin’ burger from V Cafe?
How do you get more involved in the small business movement? This is a great start:
Shop small, of course! And not just on Small Business Saturday, but every day that you can. Need milk, eggs, bread, or beer? Go to the local corner store instead – Say “hey” and get to know the owner who’s paying taxes to keep your neighborhood in tip-top shape.
Get vocal on social – Post pictures, tweets, and status updates of either the small business you own, or of yourself shopping at one, and be sure to use the hashtag #ShopSmall. Also write positive Yelp reviews for the small businesses you love and support.
Sign up for local business’ loyalty programs – Does a local business have a customer loyalty and rewards program? Sign up for it – not only will you be supporting a local business, but you’ll get discounts and rewards for it, too.
Check out the official Small Business Saturday site, the local business map (note, not all participating stores are listed on this map), and “Like” the Small Business Saturday Facebook page.
As a small business owner, promote Small Business Saturday in-store (download marketing materials here), send promotions via email and text, post on social and take advantage of the traffic by signing up new people to your loyalty program.
What are your reasons for running a small business or shopping at one? We’d love to hear them!