Guest Column: Small Business Saturday: Shop local and support your community

Kim Clarke Maisch
Kim Clarke Maisch

By Kim Clarke Maisch
Illinois state director, National Federation of Independent Business

Gallup did a survey this summer. It asked people how much confidence they had in various institutions.

According to the survey, only 7 percent of Americans said they trusted Congress a great deal or quite a lot, compared with 29 percent who trusted the presidency.

Small business, on the other hand, came in second, with 62 percent of those surveyed considering it trustworthy. The only organization to score higher, not surprisingly, was the military.

While our politicians squabble, Main Street has endured. Some small-business owners, instead of laying people off, have cut their own salaries to keep their full complement of employees. Others have dipped into savings or taken out second mortgages to keep their doors open or to avoid cutting back employee hours.

That’s incredible, when you think about it, and when we have a chance to thank small business and support it, we should take it.

We’ll have that opportunity on Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is the Saturday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 29), the Saturday after Black Friday, a time for families to wake early, sit in traffic, compete with other drivers for decent parking spots, jostle with crowds and stand in line to buy things probably no one asked for or really wants.

Small Business Saturday is the opposite of that.

The campaign to “shop small” on the Saturday after Thanksgiving started in 2010 as an effort to give small businesses — many of which were struggling to get out of the red after a long recession — a much-needed shot in the arm.

Since then, it has become a powerful movement to give back to the brick-and-mortar establishments that line our Main Streets and keep our communities vibrant.

The concept is simple: Instead of sitting at home and ordering online or “one-stop-shopping” at the nearest “big-box” store, you shop at small, locally-owned businesses for things you simply can’t find at the mall, and instead of dealing with temporary workers who don’t know the merchandise, there’s a good chance you’ll be dealing directly with the owner, who cares very much about making you happy so you’ll come back time and again throughout the year.

And like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday comes with its own deals and discounts.

Shoppers are wising up to Small Business Saturday. Last year, shoppers spent $5.7 billion at locally-owned shops and restaurants on Small Business Saturday, according to a survey conducted by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business. Last year’s total marked a 3.6 percent increase over 2012’s event.

It’s strange to think that doing something so modest can have such a big impact, but it does. When you shop local and shop small, you’re supporting your friends and neighbors. You’re supporting your community. When you shop at a chain store, most of the money goes back to some corporate office somewhere, but when you shop on Main Street, most of that money stays on Main Street.

This holiday season, make a difference in your community: Shop local on Small Business Saturday.

Kim Clarke Maisch is the Illinois state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, the nation’s leading small-business association.

From the Nov. 26-Dec. 2, 2014

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