Small Business Saturday Boosts Local Economy

Under The Hood

Image courtesy Visit Sarasota: Shoppers at St. Armands Circle.

If you already slogged through the malls on Black Friday, it’s time to visit local businesses for Small Business Saturday.

The movement to support independently-owned businesses has grown in recognition. About 53% of consumers nationwide intend to support small businesses as part of the holiday shopping weekend, according to a RetailDive survey. Of course, the same poll said 94% of consumers say small businesses are an important part of the community and should offer up deals for the national event. But that’s America, for you.

The real success of the movement will be felt today at cash registers. Know that when your spending goes to a mom-and-pop shop, its benefits to the community last longer than when a major chain takes a cut. A study from American Express, a major force being promotion of Small Business Saturday, found 67 cents of every dollar spent at a small business stays in the local community, compared to 43 cents for every dollar handed over to a national chain.

Important to this conversation, Sarasota and Manatee counties always rank high nationally in the level of small business activity. WalletHub earlier this year ranked South Bradenton, Sarasota and Bradenton among its top 30 small cities in America to start a business.

The Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County noted the strong ecosystem of support for small business in its recruitment materials, noting the major organizations like the Greater Sarasota and Manatee chambers of commerce and the smaller ones like the Gulf Coast CEO Forum, Manasota Black Chamber of Commerce and Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance. On the retail end, businesses like the Downtown Sarasota Alliance promote retail in areas dominated by locally owned businesses.

Thankfully, much of the local support does its part to encourage local commerce. Visit Sarasota County, for example, has a guide to shopping areas like Burns Court and the Rosemary District that boast numerous local storefronts. It promotes businesses like fashion boutique Lotus in Downtown Sarasota, the find-friendly Sarasota Architectural Salvage or the beach-prepping Coastal Emporium in Englewood. If you venture to these local storefront-heavy districts, do you dining local as well, maybe at Libby’s in Southside Village or Mattison’s Riverwalk Grille in Downtown Bradenton. 

All of this doesn’t always come to mind on big shopping weekends, when the rush of the crowds at major malls or the quiet serenity of online shopping offer their own appeal to different consumers. It’s important to remember, of course, that most storefronts these days maintain websites and will happily sell products online or remote. It just sometimes takes a little effort on the part of the consumer.

Million-dollar ad campaigns push advertising front of mind for national brands. In that sense, shopping local demands more conscientiousness from the consumer, but it’s valuable to do.  And the reward, a thriving local economy, will give back in ways important to the quality of life year-round.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA.

Image courtesy Visit Sarasota: Shoppers at St. Armands Circle.

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