Before the turkey is even cold, many families pour over ads and make plans to cover as much ground and scoop up the hot prices before the sun rises on Black Friday.
While everyone loves a good deal, leaders and businesses say choosing to shop local over chain stores can have a lasting positive impact on your neighbor and your community.
This is why seven years ago American Express launched Small Business Saturday.
Held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday rose to prominence in 2010 thanks to a national promotion campaign by American Express. The intent is to motivate shoppers to keep their dollars within their communities and support community-based merchants.
Since then, the event has grown every year, with more than 95 million people hitting independent stores in 2015. In 2014, shopping small made big bucks for mom and pop stores nationwide — an estimated $14.3 billion.
In partnership with local chambers of commerce and downtown organizations, businesses throughout the county will be offering special sales and promotions, extended hours, and even freebies and giveaways.
“Our small businesses are the heartbeat of our neighborhood — they give our community personality,” said Brynne Adkins, marketing director for the Madison County Chamber of Commerce. “Small Business Saturday is the perfect opportunity to shop local — not only to support the community, but to find unique products you won’t find at a big box retailer.”
The extra dollars in the local economy produce more jobs for residents, extra tax revenues for local governments, more investment in commercial and residential districts, and enhanced support for local nonprofits. In short, these businesses create better places, according to a study by Civic Economics.
The study found that 13 percent of money spent at national chains stays in the community, while 47 percent of money spent at an independent retailer stays within the community.
One local entrepreneur is Cheyenne Dodge. She is one of about 13 vendors who sell hand-crafted items at Village Homestead in Mount Sterling.
Dodge said when someone buys something of hers it “warms her heart.” And, the money made allows her to stay home with her 1-year-old daughter.
Tammy Redmond, who owns Tique-Tock boutique in Plain City with her husband, said the past six weeks have been unusually slow. Her shop isn’t the only one that has seen it.
She’s depending on extra sales this weekend to help offset the slow period.
“It’s not that we need people to go out and spend hundreds of dollars,” said Mayor Pat Closser. “If everyone went out and spent a few dollars it would really help these local businesses.”
While you plan your Small Business Saturday shopping strategy, here’s what you need to know to get the most out of the day:
1. Do your homework
Take advantage of social media to check out local businesses before you shop. Use the hashtags #shopsmall and #smallbizsaturday to track down deals or find your favorite stores on Facebook and Instagram.
Not sure what’s in your area? Find a map of participating businesses near you at www.shopsmall.com.
2. Shop where you live
Not looking forward to lining up in the cold at 4 a.m. to fight other shoppers for the best Black Friday deals? Get out and explore your community or check out one of your neighboring cities instead.
Madison County is home to several charming downtown shopping areas, so enjoy a relaxing day of shopping knowing your dollars are supporting local communities.
3. Score one-of-a-kind finds
Who doesn’t love finding unique holiday gifts for their loved ones? When you shop at local, independently owned stores, you can be confident you’re buying items you can’t find anywhere else.
4. Don’t forget local restaurants
Stores and boutiques aren’t the only places that need love on Small Business Saturday. Take a break from shopping at any of the restaurants in Madison County.
Warm up with a hot drink and a good meal and then get back out there!
5. Think small all year
Shopping small isn’t just a one-day experience, keep your local stores and restaurants in mind all year round. Patronizing your local businesses is an investment in your neighbors and your neighborhoods.
Reach Erin Thompson at 740-852-1616, ext. 1615.