There are times when small business owners must feel as though they are David fighting Goliath as they try to compete with the Internet and the buying power of the big box stores.
That’s why American Express established Small Business Saturday in 2010. The event is held the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It promotes independent and mom-and-pop businesses throughout the country, including Utah.
Ten ideas to shift your spending this holiday season
1 » Support local artists. Check out local galleries or pottery studios for unique handmade gifts.
2 » Spend a day in a neighborhood business district. Stroll through your nearest cluster of locally owned businesses.
3 » Give the gift of fine dining. Many locally owned restaurants provide gift certificates which can be used year-round.
4 » Shop locally, online. Many local retailers and manufacturers also have a convenient online option.
5 » Browse and buy at a local bookstore.
6 » Give an educational adventure. Buy memberships to local museums, gardens, zoos or aviaries.
7 » Make a gift basket filled with Utah’s Own products.
8 » Give the gift of experience. Buy certificates to a locally owned spa, yoga studio or cooking school.
9 » Donate to a local nonprofit on behalf of a like-minded friend.
10 » Visit one of many winter markets, where artisans and crafters sell their hand-crafted goods directly to the public.
Source: Local First Utah
"Buying locally, in its essence, is a sign of trust and passion toward our community’s economic and emotional well being," said Moudi Sbeity, a local artisan food producer who owns Laziz Middle Eastern Spreads, in a press release issued by Local First Utah. "Many people are not aware that when you buy locally, you support a neighbor, a friend, or a community member who in turn will support other local businesses. Shifting my spending toward a locally owned business doesn’t just mean that I spend money on that business, but I extend a hand of support and growth to my community."
According to Nan Seymour, executive director of Local First Utah, spending money at locally owned stores and restaurants means that much of that cash stays inside the state instead of being shipped to corporate offices outside of the state.
That’s why that in addition to Small Business Saturday, Local First Utah is calling Friday through Dec. 6 as Shift Your Spending Week. Seymour said that if Utah shoppers shift 10 percent of their spending to local businesses on a yearly basis, $1.3 billion will stay in the state’s economy.
"We’re trying to educate people that voting with your dollars can make a difference," said Seymour. "During the holiday season, it’s about building a community and supporting your neighbors."
The group will kick off it’s Shift Your Spending Week Friday at 10 a.m. at the Old Flamingo store in Mill Creek, where Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams will be on hand to endorse the campaign. The group also will give out gift tags telling recipients that their gift was purchased locally.
According to a recent statewide survey conducted by Civic Economics, studies looking at Salt Lake City, Ogden and Wayne County show that locally owned retailers return 55.3 percent of their revenue to the local economy, compared to 13.6 percent by national chain retailers. Utah-owned eateries collectively return 69.1 percent of their revenue to the local economy, while national chains return 30.4 percent.
Seth Winterton, deputy director of marketing for the Utah Department of Agriculture, which has helped put together the Utah’s Own organization, said his goal is to educate consumers about where they can find Utah products sold by more than 300 companies that are part of Utah’s Own.
"We think that is a strong part of helping the Utah economy," he said. "What we encourage are Utah small businesses making Utah products that can be put in their stores and sold," he said, adding that he encourages people to ask for Utah products when they go into local grocery stories.
Anne Holman, general manager of the King’s English bookstore in Salt Lake City, said her store will participate in an Indies First event Saturday where local authors will be in the store to autograph their books. For Shift Your Spending Week, King’s English will offer its customers 15 percent off their purchases. Holman said that American Express Card holders who pre-register on the company’s website can get a $10 refund when they spend $25 dollars at participating small businesses.
Jack Kirkham of Salt Lake-based Kirhkams said his outdoor store usually experiences a slight increase in business on Small Business Saturday. Other than doing some promotion on Facebook and on its website, Kirhams will offer a number of specials both Friday and Saturday.
Even President Barack Obama got into the act. He issued a statement from the White House supporting Small Business Saturday that read:
"From the mom-and-pop storefront shops that anchor Main Street to the high-tech startups that keep America on the cutting edge, small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of our nation’s promise. These businesses create two out of every three new jobs in America, helping spur economic development in communities across our country and giving millions of families and individuals the opportunity to achieve the American dream. Through events such as Small Business Saturday, we keep our local economies strong and help maintain an American economy that can compete and win in the 21st century."
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