Many of us contemplating holiday shopping prefer a happy medium between the crowds and scramble for deals of Black Friday — which now has pushed itself into Thanksgiving — and the solitary experience of Cyber Monday — if by solitary you mean shopping online at your desk at work.
Since 2010, Small Business Saturday has provided that balance, encouraging shoppers to make some of their holiday purchases at businesses in their home town. The effort was first organized by AmericanExpress, which continues to promote it, offering help for small businesses and community groups to organize events and publicize the day. Government agencies, local business groups and chambers of commerce have joined the promotion.
The effort appears to be working.
Last year, small businesses across the country generated an estimated $15.4 billion on Small Business Saturday with an estimated 112 million people shopping on that day, not too far off the 154 million who shopped on Black Friday last year.
While Washington state is home to big names in business, including Amazon, Boeing, Costco, Microsoft and others, the state’s economy relies heavily on small businesses. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses employ more than 1.3 million state residents, more than half of the state’s private sector workforce. Those with 100 or fewer employees make up 37.5 percent the state’s private sector workforce.
Those businesses aren’t all selling Christmas gifts, of course, but Small Business Saturday provides the opportunity to reflect on what those small businesses mean to the economy in our communities and the state. The provide direct jobs, certainly, but they also create demand for goods and services that create more jobs, a net 43,690 jobs in 2013, SBA figures show.
Not to come down too hard on malls and big box stores, but there’s a festive feel, especially at this time of year, to shopping our downtowns and other commercial centers and getting to know the shops, restaurants and other services there as well as their owners and employees. And it’s easy to make a family day of it with a meal at restaurant and often a selection of sporting, music and theater events within blocks of shopping.
Businesses seem to be recognizing the renewed potential of downtowns, themselves. Long after The Bon Marche vacated its downtown Everett location, the same building is now home to pop culture toymaker Funko, attracting huge crowds during its August grand opening.
Among other Small Business Saturday events planned in the county:
Everett Makers Market, 1001 Hewitt Avenue, which features clothing, art and other gifts from local producers, will be open from noon to 5 p.m.
The Downtown Marysville Merchants Association partnered with Marysville Parks, Culture and Recreation will host the first Merrysville for the Holidays Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt beginning on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 25, and continuing through Saturday, Dec. 2. For more, go to the Downtown Marysville Merchants Association Facebook page at www.facebook.com/marysvillemerchants.
Retailers in Snohomish are hosting U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-1st District, for Small Business Saturday, including GroWashington, Faded Elegance and Blanc and Rouge Wines from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m..
Bothell’s Country Village offers a raffle for a basket of products valued at $300. For every $10 spent at village businesses, shoppers earn a stamp entered in the raffle.
Yes, there are deals to be found on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but Small Business Saturday delivers some fun and support of local businesses, too.