“Small Business Saturday” has become a tradition in Small-town, America. It is a consumer holiday. Instead of shopping in corporate stores where your money will just be swelling the wallets of CEOs, Americans try to make a conscious effort to do their holiday shopping in “brick and mortar” businesses that are locally owned. The biggest known supporter of this holiday is a credit card company, American Express, in hopes that consumers will use their credit card to pay for those local purchases.
The first year of Small Business Saturday (2010) I was working in a small business in Downtown- Rutland that my mother and I helped run. It was an artist’s cooperative where people could not only buy many different types of arts/crafts made by locals, but they could watch us at work and ask us questions about anything. Unfortunately in a store like this, consumers don’t tend to want to spend money on “hand-crafted”, if they can get it cheaper somewhere else. As artists it was Hope that kept us live. Hope that a customer would buy something of ours just so we would afford to get through another day.
When Small Business Saturday was brought to our attention, we signed up immediately. Anything could help us. So we put up the sign that said we were taking part and that local crafters/artists sold their works at our shop. Did it help us boost sales? Not really. Did it save the store from closing? No, it didn’t do that either. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to save the store.
This Saturday I don’t work anywhere except at home. I won’t be able to contribute to my local economy because I don’t have a job that pays me and even if I did – I probably couldn’t afford gifts anyway.
BUT if I did have the money to buy gifts this season I know exactly where I’d spend it.
I’d spend my money in the stores in my hometown that aren’t in plazas and don’t have parking lots. They are the stores run by the locals. They line the streets with parking out front and you can sometimes see an employee outside talking to another local about some local news item. I’d spend my money in the shops where they greet you like they have known you forever, the ones where they learn your name. I’d buy scarves from the local teen trying to save up for her own clothing line. I’d buy wine from the local vineyard to go with the cheeses I picked up at the local (SATURDAY) Farmer’s Market that are all named after different towns in Vermont. I’d get a few pieces of hand-crafted jewelry from the hippy/witchy-looking lady with the long grey hair and happy smile that sits with her dog, every Saturday, selling her creations in hopes of being able to afford their dinner after the market closes.
I would spend my money in local stores and KNOW that it made a difference in someone’s life, rather than have the empty feeling that usually goes with shopping.
I hope that this Saturday everyone across the world will reconsider where their money goes and whose wallet gets fatter because of it.