Alabama’s small businesses are doing OK, but they’ve had a rough couple of years, beginning with the pandemic in 2020 and continuing with labor issues and disruptions in the supply chain.
Small business owners are a tenacious bunch, though, and despite the many challenges, they’ve managed to keep the doors open and provide the goods and services their customers need.
We need our small businesses. These independent shops and restaurants aren’t owned by faceless corporations based someplace else. They’re owned by and employ our friends and neighbors. They support our schools, give to local charities, and hold our communities together.
And these Main Street businesses need us, which is why I’m asking you to shop small and shop local on Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday is one of those traditions that feels like it’s been around forever, but this is only its 12th season. It began in 2010 as a way to help independent businesses get back on their feet following the Great Recession.
It worked. State statistics aren’t available, but American Express estimates people spent $19.8 billion at independent shops and restaurants on last year’s sales holiday. That was up a smidgen from the year before – no small achievement considering we were still social distancing last Thanksgiving weekend.
The worst of the pandemic hopefully is behind us, but small businesses aren’t really in the clear. A year ago, a lot of shops and restaurants were reducing their hours and limiting their offerings to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Today, they’re scaling back because they can’t find enough people to work or get the supplies they need.
That’s why we need to #ShopSmall on Small Business Saturday. These independent shops need our support.
Small businesses may be facing the same challenges as the national chains but shopping small offers a completely different experience. When you shop at a locally owned store or grab a bite at a mom-and-pop restaurant, there’s a good chance you’re dealing directly with the owner, someone with a vested interest not only in making you a satisfied customer but in turning you into a regular.
When you shop small, you’ll find gifts and locally-grown specialty entrees they don’t have at the chains, and you’ll keep your community economically healthy. American Express estimates 67 cents of every dollar spent at a small business stays in the community.
Alabama’s economy is a lot stronger than it was a year ago, but we’re still not back to where we were before the pandemic began in 2020. That’s why I’m asking you to help local businesses by shopping small on Small Business Saturday and throughout the year. Look for those Made in Alabama and Alabama’s Best labels when you are shopping on Small Business Saturday and throughout the year.
When we shop with Alabama’s small businesses, we help our state’s economy and your local hometown.
Rosemary Elebash is the Alabama director of the National Federation of Independent Business, the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization.