As the holiday shopping season gets underway, and as you rush about from store to store looking for the perfect gift for a friend or loved one, consider what shopping local means for our region’s economy.
This Saturday is Small Business Saturday, a time when customers are encouraged to shop locally for their holiday gifts and purchases and to recognize the role small businesses play in keeping our communities prosperous.
Money spent in our local communities is reinvested, expands the reach of local businesses and leads to more jobs. It’s a multiplier effect – business revenue spent within the region boosts the local economy and creates long-term vitality.
“Small, local businesses are very important to our economy,” said Kim Huston, president of Nelson County Economic Development Agency and member of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board. “They are an economic engine that drives the community forward.”
According to U.S. Small Business Administration, small business owners have created more than 65 percent of new jobs in the United States and employ around half of all private sector employees. As such, 60 cents of every dollar spent with a local business is retained and/or circulated in that community.
In order for these businesses to thrive,they must be supported, and that’s especially important for our local retailers during this time of year. Christmas holiday sales account for between one- and two-thirds of a retailer’s annual revenue.
In addition, holiday shopping is an excellent opportunity for residents to see what experiences their local downtown has to offer, such as unique boutiques, restaurants and museums.
The downtown areas in our region are packed with local businesses owned by people who have made a conscious, deliberate decision to locate here. They offer quality products and services, giving us more options, which is something we want to encourage in our communities.
The more prosperous a shop is, the more it will encourage others to invest in the same area. New businesses want to be located near successful, thriving businesses.
Downtown areas also offer an experience. A flourishing downtown is a snapshot of a community’s unique heritage and speaks to our desire for community connections. These areas represent the image and character of a city and create a center of concentrated activities where commercial, cultural and civic events co-exist.
“Downtown is an attraction in itself,” Huston said. “These areas are full of distinctive shops, restaurants, beauty salons and much more, and can be a huge tourist draw.”
Supporting small, local businesses means not only shopping there, but also sharing your experience with others.
“When you find a new shop or restaurant you love, share that with friends, family and colleagues,” Huston said. “Use social media connections such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to show how unique these downtown areas are and what they have to offer.”
On Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday season, consider seeing what local businesses, including those in downtown areas, have to offer. Spend some time browsing the unique offerings. Your holiday shopping may just turn into a relaxing and enjoyable experience that rewards both you and your community.
“These small stores are owned by people you may have grown up with, gone to church with, or by friends and family,” Huston said. “By shopping locally you are investing in your own community.”
Patricia Krausman is Center Director at the University of Kentucky Small Business Development Center in Elizabethtown, which serves a 10-county area, and member of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board. She can be reached at 270-765-6737 or email@example.com.