November 25, 2011A few months ago I had a dream about being at my office in the middle of the night. At 3 or 4 in the morning I was wandering around my business neighborhood trying to remember where I had parked. It was kind of scary, because all the businesses except for one small bookstore were shuttered and boarded up. The big box stores had put them all out of business. Would my business be next?
That was only a bad dream, but the big box stores have claimed "Black Friday" as their own. Those multi-national corporations want all of your holiday shopping money. For the most part, those corporate profits get invested in places far, far away from our local communities. Online shopping sites have joined the hold-up of locally-owned businesses with calls for Cyber Monday.
There are alternatives.
A new movement making its rounds on Facebook this holiday season encourages shoppers to "Shop Small" on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 26.
"Black Friday? Cyber Monday?" asks a Score.org posting under the Shop Small logo. "This year it's all about the Saturday following Thanksgiving when we continue to show our gratitude by supporting the lifeline of the American economy - our small businesses."
The 28 million small businesses in the U.S. created 65 percent of the net new jobs during the past two decades, reads the Score statement.
"Directly supporting the communities in which we live, of every $100 spent in locally-owned, independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures," says Score.
It references as its source the small business advocacy group, The 3/50 project. The 3/50 project asks for shoppers to commit at least $50 of their monthly shopping budgets to be spent among three locally-owned businesses.
The big stores will come and they will go. They make a contribution, yes, but their profits go elsewhere. In addition, they hold over the heads of local communities the threat of foregone jobs and economic development if they don't receive property tax abatement.
The stores on the pages of this newspaper give back to their communities. They invest locally. The owners live in our neighborhoods. Forget the stress of lines on Black Friday. Visit the small stores on Saturday - and on Friday and Sunday and next week.
It will give you opportunity to thank them for what they do for your community. It gives you the opportunity to make purchases that leave you smiling. Often, those come with a level of service you can't get at the big stores. The owner of the business herself or himself may offer free gift wrapping or assembly of the item you are taking home.
I first shop among the businesses that make this newspaper possible. I encourage you to think that way about your community too. Who would you miss if blocks of locally-owned businesses were dark and boarded up? It's up to you to keep the lights on.
For more information visit the Small Business Saturday page on Facebook or www.smallbusinesssaturday.com.