This weekend you can step away from the computer — or more likely the phone — and step out into your hometown to do your holiday shopping.
For the 10th year, Small Business Saturday, a nationwide event, encourages Americans to patronize the small independent shops and businesses in their community, spreading the wealth of the shopping season to help support those businesses and local economies.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday still get the biggest customer draws, but more shoppers are taking advantage of deals closer to home. Last year, Small Business Saturday saw a record high $17.8 billion spent at independent retailers and restaurants, reported American Express, which sponsors the event. Over its 10-year history, the campaign has generated an estimated $100 billion in sales for independent businesses.
Local retail shops have long relied on the Christmas shopping season to support their business, contributing an average of about 29 percent of their yearly sales, AmEx reported.
But does it make a difference where you spend your money? Certainly it matters to those local shops, but it also matters to you and your community. Shopping locally means that more of the money you spend stays in your community and recirculates to support other businesses.
Patronizing local independent businesses returns up to three times as much money per dollar spent compared to that spent with chain retailers, according to a study by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. For every $100 spent at an independent retailer, $45 is returned to the community in support of other businesses, compared to $14 for the large chain stores. For online retail, the return to the local community is even more miserly: about a $1.
For restaurants, $100 spent at an independent restaurant returns about $65 to the local economy, compared to $34 for chain restaurants.
Is better for the environment because many of the items you buy are produced closer to you and require less fuel for transportation. And getting out of the car and walking downtown is even better for your health.
Supports the public services in your city through the revenue from sales taxes.
Has intangible benefits as well, specifically fostering interaction and closer ties with shop owners, employees and other customers in your city or town.
But most importantly, money spent locally means more support for local jobs and local suppliers, which, in turn creates demand for other jobs, including teachers, first responders, medical professionals, construction workers and more.
Small business is a big deal in Washington state. The nearly 609,000 small businesses in the state make up more than 99 percent of all businesses and support 1.4 million employees, about 51.4 percent of all businesses, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy’s 2019 small business profile.
Shopping locally for holiday gifts gives twice: To the person receiving the gift, and to your hometown.
Several communities and businesses have specific events planned for Small Business Saturday:
Schack Art Center in Everett is hosting an Artisan Pop-up Market from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at its studios at 2921 Hoyt Avenue, with several local artists and artisans featured. Bonus: Adults can enjoy a glass or wine or beer while they shop.
Sunnyside Nursery, 3915 Sunnyside Blvd., Marysville, offers its Holiday Open House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Snohomish offers its Holly Jolly Holiday Market with more than 125 vendors at 9010 Marsh Road.
Monroe’s Small Business Saturday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. offers shoppers a “passport” that can be stamped at each business. And the first 50 customers at the Monroe Visitors Center, 125 S. Lewis Street, will receive a tote bag with the passport and other “swag.”