Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season and a ritual sacrifice for millions of Americans who camp in mall parking lots, sometimes at midnight, endure long lines and fight through crowded stores to find bargains on gifts for their loved ones and friends. Unbearable for some, fun for others, the great rush of shoppers into the retail market is also a vitally important, if hectic, event for the U.S. economy.
For most retailers, it’s the most critical day of the year. It marks the start of their peak earning season, a period of weeks that could make or break their businesses. And it’s not only the box stores that rely on holiday shoppers. Small businesses in your town, run by folks you probably know, are also counting on strong holiday sales to turn a profit this year or perhaps to survive another year.
With that in mind, the National Federation of Independent Business is asking shoppers to enjoy Black Friday, or at least try, and then treat themselves to a different experience by dropping in on a neighbor for Small Business Saturday. (There are events scheduled in Barre, Montpelier and Rutland.)
Small Business Saturday is about Main Street. It’s about supporting the business owners who support their communities. They’re the Little League sponsors and the Girl Scout troop leaders. They’re the civic leaders, charitable donors, Library board members and local volunteers who make life in your town better in ways that can’t be measured.
In fact, according to an NFIB survey, 74 percent of small business owners say they have volunteered for local charities, civic organizations, church groups and youth sports organizations. Seventy percent say they’ve given in-kind contributions to community groups, schools, civic organizations and charitable events.
Supporting local small businesses isn’t the only reason to shop on Small Business Saturday.
You’ll also be boosting your local economy and helping to create jobs. According to federal data, small businesses represent 99 percent of all employers in America and they create more than half of all jobs. Give your local retailers a chance to compete for your business and you’ll be giving America a better chance to compete in the world.
The main reason to shop on Small Business Saturday, however, is that you’re likely to find exactly what you want at a great price. According to a survey sponsored by NFIB and American Express, nearly 70 percent of small businesses plan to offer special deals on Small business Saturday. They know that price is important to you and they’re eager to win your business. And in addition to the items on everyone’s shopping list this season, you’re almost certain to find hand-crafted, locally made or specialty gifts that you can’t find elsewhere.
What’s more, you’ll get the kind of local expertise, individual attention and friendly service that you can only get from a neighbor. Small business owners and their employees know their merchandise and they understand their customers.
Stop in and there’s a good chance you’ll be dealing directly with the owner who wants to make you happy because he wants you to come back and tell your friends.
So this holiday shopping season stop in to see your neighbors on Small Business Saturday. They’re eager to make your shopping experience enjoyable.
Shawn Shouldice serves as the Vermont state director for the National Federation of Independent Business.MORE IN Perspective
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