The holiday shopping season officially kicked into high gear Friday, as consumers hungry for a bargain were up before dawn and headed out to big box stores far and wide.
In the quest to offer the best deal, Black Friday now begins even earlier, with many businesses foregoing any semblance of a traditional Thanksgiving by enticing shoppers with Thursday bargains. Instead of settling in to watch football or succumbing to a turkey-induced coma, families are piling into their cars and going shopping, looking to get a jump on the craziness of the following day.
Often lost in the shuffle of this chaos, especially in a community the size of Powell, are the smaller local merchants, who are finding it harder to compete with the giant “superstores” or box stores and the convenience of online shopping with each passing year.
To give local businesses a fighting chance, American Express began the Small Business Saturday initiative in 2010, an effort to encourage shoppers to support smaller retailers. Though numbers aren’t yet available for this year’s incarnation, last year’s Small Business Saturday saw shoppers to the tune of 112 million spend $15.4 billion nationally, offering a nice alternative to the chaos of Black Friday.
But the benefits of shopping locally extend beyond just supporting hometown businesses. There are currently 64,653 small businesses in Wyoming; that number represents 98.8 percent of all the businesses in the state, according to the Office of Advocacy’s Small Business Profiles. In 2014 alone, 5,341 jobs were created, meaning 62 percent of all employees in the state “were working for a small business that year.” The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that the 28 million small businesses in the country account for 54 percent of all sales.
Small businesses are what makes a community unique, and Powell is no exception. When you patronize the shops and restaurants on Bent Street and the outliers, you are preserving that uniqueness, whether it’s grabbing a shake at a soda shop, buying tools at a hardware store or finding treasures at a retail shop.
Shopping locally also improves the local economy, as well as strengthens the connection between that business and the community. Owners and employees often know their customers on a personal level, and when a local business thrives, we all take pride in its success.
Shopping at these establishments keeps money in Powell or Park County, and can go to support a variety of entities, including schools, libraries and other services. Small businesses also often sponsor local events and charities as a way of giving back to the community.
We hope everyone who ventured out into the madness of Black Friday, as well as participated in the online smorgasbord of yesterday’s Cyber Monday, found what they were looking for. But we also hope some of them took time on Small Business Saturday to check out what local retailers and restaurants have to offer, and continue to do so throughout the holiday season.