Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times
In the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season and the madness of "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday", it can be easy to not be conscious of where your money is truly going.
According to the National Retail Federation, a record $52.4 billion in sales was made last year during Black Friday. However, that was billions of dollars going to big box, chain stores whose profits neither benefit the local community nor the United States in most cases.
With the economy steadily gaining regrowth but still in a rut, it is important now, more than ever, to make sure that every dollar spent benefits economic growth in our own communities and the United States.
It is for this reason that American Express began an initiative called Small Business Saturday three years ago urging consumers to "shop small".
"It came out of, really, the desire to help small businesses," said Small Business Saturday shopping expert Patricia Norins. "American Express has always been about small businesses."
Small Business Saturday is on Nov. 24, falling between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Last year, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution making the day after Black Friday “Small Business Saturday officially.
"Black Friday is the day that we all know," said Norins. "There was nothing bringing our attention to shopping small."
According to the inaugural Small Business Saturday Insights Survey, released by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express, nearly 50 percent of independent merchants plan to incorporate Small Business Saturday as part of their holiday strategy.
"One of the things that I love about this initiative is that it levels the playing field for these small businesses," said Norins.
According to owner of City Market Jessica Newman, shopping small is a win/win. Not only does your money stay local to help stimulate the economy in your community, but it also offers benefits that shopping at chains can't offer.
"You’re getting items that not everyone else has," said Newman.
City Market offers an element of uniqueness since they only carry six of each item they sell.
"It makes it a little bit more special," said Newman. "Our stuff, we don't re-order, when it's gone it's gone."
City Market plans on fully participating in Small Business Saturday and though they will be open on Black Friday, they will not have an environment of crazed and rushed shopping.
"We're not going to be crazy rushed," said Newman.
Beauty Clinique Boutique or BCB, will also be participating in Small Business Saturday.
"I think it's very important to keep your business local," said retail manager of BCB Hope Meeks.
Aside from keeping your tax dollars local, Meeks also feels that small businesses such as BCB can offer business with a "personal touch" that the big chains can't offer.
"We know our customers," said Meeks.
While BCB will also be open for Black Friday, it won't be the same scene like you would see at the mall.
"We consider ourselves a one-stop-shop with style for the feminine sophisticate," said Meeks.
South Georgia Pecan Co. is one of those quintessential small-town businesses that supports the community throughout the year, not just during the holiday season. They keep the needs of their customers and their community in mind 24/7 and recognize the importance of taking care of your own first.
"It's very important for the local economy," said retail manager for South Georgia Pecan Co. Melissa Boatenreiter on shopping small. "You're supporting the community at multiple levels."
During the holiday season, South Georgia Pecan Co. has roughly 250 employees to help handle the demand for their products.
"You're helping provide jobs for people in our community," said Boatenreiter.
Down to the products they carry, South Georgia Pecan Co. does everything they can to keep it all local or at the very least, in the state of Georgia.
Boatenreiter went to a national food show in Washington D.C. where she found not only a variety of new products that no one in town carries, but also found products made by other small businesses in Georgia.
"We promote Georgia products," said Boatenreiter.
Among consumers, there is a myth that shopping small means spending big, and that just really isn't the case.
According to Boatenreiter, their pistachios have more per bag and are cheaper than the Great Value brand pistachios from Walmart.
Christmas is always boasted as "the season of giving" and when you shop small, you give so much more than you spend. Every dollar supports local businesses, local jobs and the local economy.
To find out where you can shop small next saturday, visit www.americanexpress.com and click the tab titled "find out where to shop". Type in your city and state or your zip code and you will be given a list of all the small businesses in the community.