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Consumers urged to ‘shop small’ for Small Business Saturday

November 23, 2018

SCOTTSBLUFF — Wedged between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a day that could possibly be even more important — It’s Small Business Saturday, when local consumers are encouraged to “Shop Small.”

Black Friday and Cyber Monday primarily focus on larger retailers and ecommerce stores. But Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to shop at their small, local retailers and other independent businesses and restaurants.

By patronizing those local businesses, consumers are helping make their hometown economy stronger. And that’s how the program got started.

In 2010, small businesses were hurting as the nation’s economy went into a recession. Those small businesses are what keep local economies strong. So in 2010, American Express came up with an idea — designate the Saturday following Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday. This year, it’s on Saturday, Nov. 24.

In 2011, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution in support of the day as all 50 states participated.

By 2013, more than 1,400 individuals and organizations have signed up as Neighborhood Champions to rally their communities with events and activities to promote Small Business Saturday. That number grew to more than 7,200 by 2017.

Small business owners weren’t the only ones getting involved. From the beginning, business associations, nonprofit trade groups, municipalities and public officials were jumping on board as well. Nearly 1,000 corporations were lending official support.

The idea has even gone international, as England has also designated this Dec. 1 as Small Business Saturday to encourage consumers to patronize their local shops.

Keith Ellis, community and economic development director with Twin Cities Development, said our own local community is well-aware of a struggling economy with depressed farm commodity prices and several recent business closures.

“If people can focus on working with existing local retailers to shop locally and reinvest in our community, it would be very positive for us as a whole,” he said. “The holiday season is a good time to do that. You can see the signs when things are getting tighter and it affects every part of our community. I’m also seeing some good signs of people pulling together to support our local businesses.”

Karen Anderson, executive director of the Scottsbluff/Gering United Chamber of Commerce, said it’s important to patronize small businesses because they give back to the community.

“I also think customer service is better because you’re dealing directly with the owner.”

With family in town for the Thanksgiving holiday, Small Business Saturday becomes one of the busiest shopping days of the season.

“It kicks off the holiday season,” she said. “People want to see what new items the stores are carrying and find something unique for gift giving.”

Shelby Hadenfeldt, co-owner of Lynne Morgan Boutique in downtown Scottsbluff, said the business has developed a strong following since they opened last May.

Their boutique offers women’s fashions that aren’t also found at every other store in the community.

“Shopping local is important to keep dollars in the community,” Hadenfeldt said. “That’s why we opened the store, to help the local economy.”

Hadenfeldt’s mother, Susan Harvey, is the boutique’s co-owner. She said Small Business Saturday is also a day to say thanks for the customer support they’ve received since they opened.

According to data from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Americans spent about $15.4 billion at independent neighborhood retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday last year.

There are more than 30 million small businesses in the United States. About half of American workers either work for or own a small business. That’s important to small communities because two of three new jobs are created by the nation’s small businesses.

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