In just two days, we will gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a special day for many reasons, but most importantly for allowing us a time to reflect on the bountiful blessings we have all enjoyed in the past year.
Those of us who own small businesses see it as a special day of rest before one of the most important shopping days of the year, Black Friday.
The day’s name was originated in the 60s in Philadelphia as a description for the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. In the 70s the term was adopted by small businesses and other retailers who traditionally operated at a financial loss (in the red) from January through November. Black Friday, for many small businesses, is the point at which they turned a profit for the year or were “in the black.”
From the great recession we have been slogging through, started by the financial collapse of 2008, we saw some creative social movements to help us all refocus on the important role locally owned small businesses play in the success of each community.
One of my favorites is www.the350project.net, which was launched in 2009. Added to the financial challenges created by the recession was the rapid expansion of the Internet that allowed the simplicity of shopping online. More than ever before, the brick and mortar “mom and pop” shops that our nation and community was built on were being hit with a double whammy.
The 3/50 project helped remind shoppers of the important role these small businesses play. The campaign asks that you think about locally owned small businesses you would miss if they closed. It then encourages you to pick three small businesses and spend $50 per month with each of them and help support their business and the local economy.
Since nearly 70 percent of what the US produces is for personal consumption, shopping local is critical to their survival. The 3/50 website explains the campaign by asking you to, “Stop in. Say hello. Pick up something that brings a smile.” Your purchases are what keeps that business around.
If half the employed population spent $50 each month in locally owned independent businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue. Imagine the positive impact if three quarters of the employed population did that, as well. For every $100 spent in locally-owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend it online and “nothing comes home.”
Piggybacking off of the success of the 3/50 movement in 2010, American Express created their “Small Business Saturday” campaign which is this Saturday – the Saturday after Black Friday. This campaign is the cornerstone of the “Shop Small Movement,” a year round campaign to celebrate and support small businesses every day. There are hundreds of small businesses in Bulloch County participating in the “Shop Small” campaign on Saturday.
As you are developing your plan of attack for the busiest shopping weekend of the year, please shop local for as many items as you can. The following is something I found on Facebook and it sums up the importance of shopping local very well.
“When you buy from a family owned business, you are not helping a CEO buy a third vacation home. You are helping a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy get his team jersey, a mom or dad put food on the table, a family pay a mortgage, or a student pay for college. Our customers are our shareholders and they are the ones we strive to make happy.”
Have a great Thanksgiving and thank you for supporting small businesses in Bulloch County. It truly does make a difference!