Vail Daily column: Shop local on Small Business Saturday
Black Friday sales dominate the news and it’s likely that we’ll see plenty of coverage on folks from more urban areas storming retailers to try to secure the best electronics deals, the hottest toys of the season (Star Wars, anyone?), and other gifts for the holiday season.
We’re fortunate here, as a small town without a lot of major retailers, that instead of a mass rush toward retail sales, we focus our mass rush to reach our secret powder stashes on the mountain. We’re also fortunate to be a community that values our small businesses, and we are more likely to shop on Small Business Saturday than on Black Friday.
What exactly is Small Business Saturday? In five short years Small Business Saturday has joined the trifecta of holiday shopping days, accompanying Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the lexicon of consumers. The first ever Small Business Saturday took place on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010. It quickly grew in 2011 and became an officially recognized day with support from federal, state and local governmental entities. The concept of supporting locally owned small businesses continued in 2012 as research from Consumer Insights showed almost 74 million consumers chose to purposely shop at small businesses. Consumer Insights also showed that in 2014 alone an estimated $14.3 billion was spent at small, independent businesses on Small Business Saturday.
It is clearly a movement, and there are definite benefits to supporting community businesses. Vail Valley Partnership is proud to be a “Neighborhood Champion” of Small Business Saturday (selected by Small Business Saturday sponsor American Express). Neighborhood champions are typically state and local chambers of commerce, or other community organizers who are willing to commit to organizing events or activities to rally their neighborhoods for Small Business Saturday. We’ve spend the past six-plus weeks reaching out to businesses throughout the valley to provide promotional materials, promoting our small businesses through events and online contests, and using our communication channels to communicate the importance and impacts of our small business community.
While it is not always possible to buy what you need locally, it is possible to think local first and to support small businesses when possible. Numerous case studies shows that locally owned businesses generate a premium in enhanced economic impact to the community and our tax base; small businesses are also an integral part of the distinctive character of the Vail Valley, which benefits our visitors.
Our business community is filled with entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship is important to our continued economic growth, and successful communities value and listen to their business communities. Our local businesses aid in providing a unique guest experience summed up nicely by Richard Moe, President of National Historic Preservation Trust, when he states “when people go on vacation they generally seek out destinations that offer them the sense of being someplace, not just anyplace.”
Clearly, we’re on the map as a tourism destination and our brand awareness is unrivaled in the industry. Small businesses simply enhance the guest experience, and Vail Valley Partnership is actively involved in helping our entrepreneurial community. There are numerous ways for communities to be supportive of entrepreneurism and business success.
Some examples include helping businesses through government processes and connecting them to local and regional resources, cultivating opportunities for collaboration and networking, and keeping focused on workforce programs. These programs — while not directly related to Small Business Saturday — provide a good foundation for small businesses to succeed, and are an important way for the community to support our small business community throughout the year.
As a community, it’s vital that we continue to work to provide tools and resources to our business community to help them succeed. Building a business friendly culture and helping entrepreneurs navigate the tools and resources that exist helps reduce barriers.
As consumers, we are also a key part in helping small businesses thrive. Our friends and neighbors own small businesses and these same small businesses provide the lion’s share of our employment numbers and economic impacts. By shopping or dining at small businesses throughout the year, but especially on Small Business Saturday, we show our support for the small businesses in our neighborhood in the community we call home. Learn more at shopsmall.americanexpress.com/ and please join Vail Valley Partnership in making a big difference by shopping small Saturday.
Chris Romer is president & CEO of Vail Valley Partnership