Today’s a great day to mind someone else’s business.
A relatively recent tradition, and in our view a brilliant one, today is the eighth national Small Business Saturday, when we’re all encouraged to patronize local and locally owned businesses.
The big chains – which get big precisely because they have found a formula and business model that folks flock to – have made a nice living off of Black Friday, America’s unofficial start to the Christmas shopping season.
Meanwhile, they and Internet shopping sites clean up on Cyber Monday, which is this Monday. These days, we hardly need to be reminded to shop online; it’s become a tradition of its own making.
But in the holiday hubbub and the jubilant noise of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we risk shortchanging what used to be called “mom and pop” stores — local retail outlets operated on shoestrings by hardworking friends and neighbors, often pillars of the community and leading philanthropists in their own right.
These are community members who work tirelessly to build a business from scratch, and who offer unique inventories and personalized service powered by the ability to make executive decisions on the spot.
Indeed, small businesses are the backbone of the American economy.
And that’s not just a feel-good slogan, either. According to Inc.com:
In 2010, “there were 27.9 million small businesses registered in the United States, compared to just 18,500 companies of 500 employees or more.”
Even though less than a quarter of small businesses employ others, “almost half of the nation’s private sector workforce (49.2 percent) is employed by small business – that’s 120 million people.”
“Since 1995, small businesses have been responsible for creating two out of every three – or 64 percent – of net new jobs in our country.”
Small businesses are innovation incubators: “A study conducted by the Small Business Administration found that small businesses produced 16 times more patents per employee compared to larger patenting firms.”
Area chambers of commerce have run full tilt with the Small Business Saturday idea: The Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce’s “Small Business Saturday® Passport Shopping Contest,” which has run all week and ends today, offers a downloadable and printable “passport” to get stamped at participating businesses (http://bit.ly/2Ar80Vm). Completed passports can be entered in a drawing to win a two-night getaway in Jacksonville, Fla.
To enter, take a picture of your completed passport and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. Monday.
Similarly, the North Augusta Chamber is offering the “Chamber Express,”which has been issuing shoppers “travel books” they can get stamped at each participating business, or “whistle stop.”
The North Augusta event concludes with a “Shopping Extravaganza” at St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church, 471 W. Martintown Road – where travel books can be redeemed for chances at cash prizes.
Contrary to some of the antics on Black Friday, shopping should be fun. We’re taking advantage of a land of plenty, in order to fulfill a need or want in our lives.
And often we’re doing it with family we may not see all year long.
Let’s spread the cheer to our family businesses too.