Small businesses rely on local customers — and create 90 percent of the jobs in Colorado.
What we think:
Think small this year and shop close to home during the holidays.
Next weekend is a big day for retailers. It’s when Christmas shopping begins in earnest — and for many local businesses, the day their stores finally start operating in the black.
While Black Friday is important for locally owned businesses, their real day to shine starts the next morning, on Small Business Saturday. It’s the biggest shopping day of the year in downtown Colorado Springs, in Old Colorado City, Monument, Manitou Springs and for small shops all around the city.
For owners like Candance Toscano, owner of Toscano’s Interiors, Small Business Saturday is a big deal. The same goes for Terra Verde’s Chris Sondermann and countless other shop owners around El Paso County. Small, independent businesses rely on local customers — and the money spent here, stays here. Last year, the National Federation of Independent Businesses reported that shoppers spent $15.4 billion on Small Business Saturday, an increase of 13 percent from 2015.
For many customers, it’s the start of the holiday season. For businesses, it can mean the difference between a successful year and a disastrous one.
But Black Friday tends to be for chains — those big box stores like Walmart or Target or Best Buy. So save your money and shop on Saturday, as the city’s retail districts celebrate the local businesses whose owners live here, work here, play here.
For every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $45 stays in the community, supporting neighbors, friends and families. For big box stores, only $15 of that $100 stays in Colorado Springs and El Paso County.
In Colorado, small business is huge. According to the Small Business Administration, companies with fewer than 100 employees have the largest share of small business employment. And this time last year, these private enterprises increased jobs by 3.6 percent statewide over 2015 — and helped drive the economic recovery.
But it’s more than just dollars and cents, more than just dry numbers. Small businesses provide the backbone of support to local nonprofits. Look at who donates to the Springs Rescue Mission, Junior Achievement or the Therapeutic Riding Center. Local business owners keep the nonprofits here working to achieve their mission. As the annual Give! Campaign says: Live here, give here. (Disclosure: Give! is a nonprofit created and supported by Colorado Publishing House, the owner of the Colorado Springs Business Journal.)
To maximize the boost to their year-end bottom line, small businesses need to prepare now for the Nov. 25 onslaught. And here are some get-ready tips from the NFIB:
• Use social media. Let your followers and friends know about your shop, what you do and what special treats and deals you will offer on Small Business Saturday.
• Showcase your gift merchandise so it’s attractive, easily seen — and irresistible to shoppers.
• Turn your area into a shopping destination, as retailers do in Old Colorado City and downtown. Old Colorado City plans its annual Victorian Santa and an evening Christmas Stroll and downtown has free parking, an ice-skating rink, free shopping bags and discount books to add to the holiday festivities.
• Team up with other local shops for deals: Buy a pair of shoes at one store, go to their partner location and get a pair of socks at 10 percent off.
Small businesses have more competition than ever, thanks to chains, big box stores and online shopping, which is gaining more and more ground.
On Saturday, Nov. 25, be sure to visit local businesses — and be part of local economic development.