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Small Business Saturday a first

By: 26 November 2010 3 Comments

Jamie Smith is a writer for First Arkansas News but she's also a home-based business owner

Tomorrow brings the perfect trifecta shopping experience to Americans as the first ever Small Business Saturday is recognized.

According to the site, Small Business Saturday is an event created through a joint effort between American Express OPEN (the company’s small business division), several advocacy organizations and other private and public entities.

Small Business Saturday is designed to be like Black Friday and Cyber Monday except for the focus is-you guessed it-small businesses.

I for one hope this idea takes off. I thought it was both fun and brilliant a few years ago when Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving when many online stores offer their best deals) joined Black Friday (really, does this one need explaining?). Although many companies that have both a strong online and storefront presence use Black Friday to offer their best deals, many non-storefront (or small storefront) companies use Cyber Monday for their good deals.

Now it’s small business’ turn.

I hope many Americans…Arkansans…head out to small businesses on Saturday to not only find good deals for themselves, but to make a statement that says “we think you’re important too.”

Let me stop right here and clarify something. Neither this movement nor this column are about being against big business. Quite the contrary. I think both small and big business are vital for our economy and each provide their own unique niche in our commercial experience. This column is in support of small businesses but that in no way should be taken as lack of support of big businesses. I have nothing against the big box store sales on Black Friday (I even participate to a small degree) or the big stores in general.

But now it’s the little guy’s turn.

So yes, while I’m a big shopper of the big stores and don’t want them to go away, I also want to see small businesses thrive. I live in an area where both are able to prosper and, in my opinion, help each other out.

Why should people patronize small businesses? Let’s first take a look at a few facts that are presented on the Small Business Saturday website:

  • According to Civic Economics, when $100 is spent in a small business, $68 of that somehow gets returned back to the local community.
  • According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses employ half of all private sector employees.
  • Also according to the Small Business Administration, small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
  • Again, according to the SBA, 60 to 80 percent of new jobs generated every year during the last decade have been from small businesses.

Besides the economic impact, I also think small businesses provide a good customer experience. Many small businesses are family owned or at least owned by a small group of people. I know many local establishments where you are helped by the owner or at least a family member of the owner when you patronize that business. That tells me that the business means something to them. Your business means something to them.

Small businesses also have a strong ability to have a niche market and to also change that market easily based on customer feedback. I’ve seen local restaurants change their menu based on what was selling or not selling, or based on requests. Larger chains have a harder time doing that.

I often hear that small businesses cost more and sometimes that is true. It’s just how things work. But I also think that the higher price theory is not necessarily always true, and if it is, it the higher price is often accompanied by higher quality of service and product. Small business owners have the luxury of making decisions based on a situation, not on a nationwide set of rules that are created out of fairness, but may not necessarily make for good customer service.

So what are your plans for Saturday? Got some Christmas shopping left to do? I hope you join me in patronizing a small business. It’s good for the economy, it’s good for the consumer.

About: Jamie Smith:
Experienced reporter who is now an entrepreneur. Jamie's Notebook offers writing services including press releases, corporate blogging and feature writing.

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