Small Business Saturday crucial for local economies

M any Americans shop excessively the day after Thanksgiving, signifying the unofficial start of the commercial holiday season. Black Friday welcomes millions of Americans to shopping malls, discount outlets and high-end storefronts in search of seasonal sales each year.

Black Friday does not allow all types of business owners to reap the benefits of holiday-crazed shoppers, however. It is mainly large corporations who reap the profit because they can afford to offer the most enticing sales to consumers.

In an effort to promote small retailers and merchants often left in the dust of major companies during the holiday shopping season, American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2009. American Express offers free marketing materials and countless other resources to small businesses during this time in order to make sure that they gain as many benefits out of Small Business Saturday as possible.

Small Business Saturday is majorly overlooked in the shopping-heavy weekend following Thanksgiving, yet its importance is undeniable. Small businesses hope for an influx of customers during the holiday season; unlike larger corporations, the small businesses solely depend on the community they are located in for support.

Making a conscious decision to “shop small” during the holiday season is an effort that should be made by all consumers. Purchases mean much more—both emotionally and financially—to small business owners, as opposed to large corporations.

Forbes contributor Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle in 2015 referred to Small Business Saturday as “one of the most important shopping days of the year.” She went on to cite the increase in success for the relatively new tradition, with 2014 figures indicating that  “88 million consumers shopped small on Small Business Saturday, up 14.9 percent from 2013, spending $14.3 billion at local and independent businesses.”

Although Small Business Saturday has gained popularity over the years, it is still necessary for more people to get involved and to shop small––not only on this designated date, but throughout the rest of the holiday season and year.

In Livingston County, it is imperative that Geneseo students and faculty support local businesses. Small businesses help to make our communities special, and here in Geneseo, they create a unique and beloved atmosphere for college students and residents alike.

In addition to getting some great holiday gifts in Livingston County, there are also countless other benefits to shopping small. According to the Small Business Administration, big businesses have eliminated 4 million jobs since 1990, while small businesses added 8 million. This is not only important on a national scale; it reminds those of us living in Livingston County of how many local businesses provide invaluable employment for Geneseo students and residents. Essentially, the success of small businesses in Livingston County directly correlates to the way our campus operates and how our student life prospers.

There are a multitude of cultural, economic and ethical reasons why shopping small is important. Small Business Saturday is a necessary reminder of them, as we must be mindful of how our decisions as consumers are meaningful.

Even though Small Business Saturday has passed, I urge everyone to continue to support local businesses not only during this holiday season, but year-round, too.