Year round, shopping small is widely encouraged among communities and businesses alike thanks to the ‘Shop Small’ message that is branded with Small Business Saturday. A message supported by all types of small businesses – including restaurants, cafes, spas, fitness studios, and community art foundations, making it a day for communities and consumers to come together and put a face on the services that help this nation run.
As a small business owner myself, and admittedly, a huge fan of shopping small and local, I know first hand the strength that a nationally recognized message can offer a small business owner, and it’s for this reason that Small Business Saturday has continued to see extraordinary success.
Since the first-ever Small Business Saturday on Nov 27, 2010, small business owners have used this day to spotlight the local businesses that often are overshadowed by mass commercialism and the start of the holiday shopping season. With the resounding success of Small Business Saturday’s first year, the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution of support for Small Business Saturday in 2011, and in 2013 President Obama championed Small Business Saturday as a “day to remember those who help to keep the dream of owning a small business in this nation alive.”
Add to this that according to a 2015 Pew Research survey, 23 percent of U.S. adults shopped at a locally owned business on Small Business Saturday. While these numbers are still smaller compared to the 33.6 percent who made a purchase online last Cyber Monday, the same research also notes that more than half (54.8 percent) of Cyber Monday shoppers said they would rather shop at a small, independent business as long as price and product quality are similar. And who do you think is leading the sales for Small Business Saturday? Millennials aged 25 to 34, which make up the single largest segment of Small Business Saturday shoppers each year.
And who do you think is leading the sales for Small Business Saturday? Millennials aged 25 to 34, which make up the single largest segment of Small Business Saturday shoppers each year.
Now it’s also important to ask why this day is so important? Small Business Saturday is vital because small business is, quite frankly, growing business because according to the Small Business Administration, there are more than 28.2 million small businesses operating in the United States as of March 2014, with about 63% of new jobs being created from small businesses. Of these same 28.2 million businesses, most are self-employed ventures making up about 3/4 of the U.S.’s total long-term businesses. These same businesses are the leading tax revenue for local communities and provide needed support for schools, infrastructure, and urban development across this nation. So supporting your local coffee shops, favorite boutiques, or local pet shop isn’t just trendy, it’s nation-affirming business.
When you consider how many small businesses surround you in your everyday life, it’s so affirming to think about the amount of time, commitment, and labor these hard working individuals put into making their businesses both come to life and stay alive. Yet, many Americans frequent chain stores without considering that small local business need their patronage more.
Whether it’s filling a prescription at a local pharmacy or picking up eggs and milk at a local corner store , small businesses are too often overlooked for all the wrong reasons. Customers assume that pricing will automatically be higher at a small business, dismissing the perks that many small businesses offer such as customer care, fresher goods, and community support.
So before you think that mass retail is cheaper, consider the following points. First, stores do not control the pricing of most products. Vendors do. That the prices identified on products that are for sale are identified by the vendor – not the store. With some exceptions, stores primarily have no control over a product price but rather are provided an MSRP (Manufactured Suggested Retail Price) that tells them the price the product should be sold at. Over time, if the product doesn’t sell or a store has a promotional event taking place, this price may be lowered. Many small merchants also offer discounted items for special occasions often at a far lower rate than that of big box stores.
The inventory also plays a key in pricing. Smaller merchants have the same access to vendors as big box stores do and will often go above and beyond in terms of their customer service support. If your local merchant does not carry an item you want, ask them to carry it. You may just be surprised! And speaking of customer service, when it comes to small business, it is generally more personalized, hands-on and noteworthy from smaller businesses. There is something to be said for the personal commitment to their business that sets small business owners apart. Something that a big box store can never carry, an impeccable attention to detail and the desire to know your customers by name.
Small business owners also often provide their customers with more diversity. Sure, a big box merchant may have a larger footprint in your local community, but that doesn’t mean they have more variety to offer you. When you walk into a chain store, you know exactly what you will find. However, when you walk into a local business, you are often surprised by the inventory options. Remember – just because a big box store is just that, bigger, and that doesn’t mean they have more to offer!
Beyond actual dollars being kept within your local community – which is significantly higher when dollars are spent at a local business vs. corporate one – small business owners are also more likely to “do good” for your community, as well. Small businesses deliver community character and economic advantages to the town they are positioned in, but also strengthen partnerships among neighbors, residents, other small business owners, community leaders and even schools by offering social and economic relationships. Many also support local causes, creating, even more, good within a community.
Another interesting point to consider is that small businesses do not always stay small – such as Ben & Jerry’s, Ralph Lauren, Melissa & Doug, and even Microsoft, began as dreams filled with a tenacity of hope, with a tremendous amount of hard work, long days and even longer nights. All businesses that started in someone’s garage before eventually moving on to become pioneers in American economic design. Today, they are among the most recognized brands in our country. Yet while most small business owners will not see this type of growth, their value to our economy and more specifically, your local economy, are maybe even more important. Dreams fuel the American spirit.
I say all that to say this: Shopping small, shopping local on this Saturday, any Saturday, or any other day in between, small businesses deserves to be part of your everyday purchasing power routine.
It’s crucial that we all shop small. Do it for your community. Do it for all those amazing, unique, one-of-a-kind mom and pop shops across the nation. Do it for the environment. Do it for the entrepreneurial spirit that is one of the cornerstones of this dream we call America. Do it for yourself. Whatever your reasons, just go. Go out into your community, patronize a new boutique, dine at a local eatery, and bless small businesses with your purchasing power today on Small Business Saturday.
So everyone, will you be shopping small this Small Business Saturday. If you are, I’d love to hear about it below! Happy shopping!