Op-Ed: Support LOCAL shops and restaurants on Small Business Saturday

Rosemary Elebash (contributed)

Governor Ivey has proclaimed Nov. 30, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, as Small Business Saturday in Alabama.

Small business really is the bedrock of Alabama’s economy. It accounts for 99.4 percent of all businesses in the state and employs about 47 percent of the workforce, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Small Business Saturday, then, is a day when we can support the locally owned shops and restaurants that support our communities throughout the year.

Small Business Saturday was created 10 years ago to support the clothing stores and coffee shops struggling to recover from the Great Recession. Since then, it has become one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

We don’t have sales figures for Alabama, but, nationwide, shoppers spent a whopping $17.8 billion last year on Small Business Saturday, according to American Express and NFIB, the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization. To put that in perspective, people spent only $7.9 billion online two days later on Cyber Monday.

Overall, an estimated 104 million Americans supported local stores and restaurants on last year’s Small Business Saturday. And it wasn’t just brick-and-mortar businesses that benefited from the sales holiday. According to American Express and NFIB, 41 percent of those who participated in last year’s Small Business Saturday shopped small online, too.

One of the things I enjoy most about shopping small is the service. When you #ShopSmall, there’s a good chance you’ll be dealing directly with the owner, someone with a personal stake in making you a satisfied customer who’ll become a regular. And it appears they’re succeeding; 96 percent of shoppers surveyed by American Express and NFIB last year said Small Business Saturday makes them want to shop at small businesses the rest of the year, too.

Shopping malls and chain stores can be generic, but small businesses are unique. When you shop small, you stand a better chance of finding clothes and gifts they don’t sell at the mall. Plus, more of the money we spend at a small business stays in the community – 67 cents of every dollar, according to a study by American Express. What’s more, every dollar spent at a small business creates another 50 cents in local business activity because of employee spending and purchases to keep the business up and running.

Small business is important. Small business is fundamental to the economic health of our communities. Small businesses are owned by – and employ – our family, friends, and neighbors. They create jobs and support our local charities and schools.

Please join me and go out with your family and friends and enjoy shopping and dining on Small Business Saturday. Small business really is the glue that holds our communities together. When we help small businesses, we help everyone.

Rosemary Elebash is the Alabama state director of NFIB, the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization. She lives in Montgomery.

Rosemary Elebash (contributed)