by Christina Ulrich
Gratitude is a wonderful feeling. It is humbling. It overcomes you and invokes feelings of true appreciation for friends and families, health and homes, and neighbors and communities. Gratitude creates a deeply felt thankfulness for others who have gone out of their way to offer help or support, or maybe even just a kind word, in times of need.
The Thanksgiving holiday inspires people to look deep into their blessings and experience these heartfelt feelings of thankfulness. It is the beginning of the holiday season. Oftentimes, people continue their expressions of gratefulness the weekend following the holiday. For some, Black Friday has been a tradition since the sixties, earning its name in Philadelphia to describe the overcrowding of stores and traffic congestion on one of the busiest shopping days of the year (Amadeo, K., 2017). Similarly, Cyber Monday began in 2005 by Shop.org and has set record sales since its onset (Amadeo, 2017). This year, everyone should consider the kind actions, as well as love and support, of friends and family by starting a new tradition: Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday began in 2010 as a rewards program for American Express cardholders as a “powerful opportunity to reconnect with customers — and boost sales” (Leadham, R. 2017 ). Now it has grown into a nationwide movement to recognize local small businesses, with or without the credit card incentives.
Shopping locally, especially in small communities, benefits everyone who lives in those areas. Economic bases are strengthened because more money is redistributed back into the community when dollars are spent at independently owned small businesses. Local owners frequently respend their incomes at other local stores and farms. However, survival is challenging, especially when the big, all-in-one, corporate giants are just a short drive away.
“One of the biggest hurdles we had, and continue to have, is the leakage of business to Airway Heights and Spokane,” stated Sherrill Hansen, co-owner of Davenport Family Foods. She and her husband, Kevin, purchased this local grocery store in 1994 because they both liked the “feel” of the Davenport community.
“As a privately owned small business, we are able to respond to community needs faster than a big corporation can, because we can make the call on-the-spot and do not have to wait for some kind of approval,” Sherrill said. “If the support for all local business slows or stops, then the dollars needed to continue support for local needs dries up too. It is another version of the circle of life.” This year marks the Hansen’s 4th Small Business Saturday.
Rather than spending the extra time and money at the big department stores, locals could stay local and spend their holiday shopping time and dollars closer to home. Consider planning for and purchasing holiday meals at locally owned grocers, such as Davenport Family Foods, Reardan’s R Store, and Harrington Food Mart. Remember, as members of local communities, these storekeepers are often our friends, and have helped us with our daily needs all year long. Let’s all show our gratitude by purchasing items for traditional feasts and family recipes through these independently owned grocers.
Small Business Saturday is a great day to acknowledge other local shop owners as well. Davenport Pharmacy, owned by Christopher McCowen since 2013, is another great place to stop on November 25th. “We have participated in Small Business Saturday for many years now,” said Christopher. “We have made this day as special for customers as possible. Often with an appearance from Santa Clause, free arts and crafts projects and specials on merchandise.”
According to Christopher, small businesses are “the backbone” of small communities, as they create revenue and many local jobs. “Year after year it has been fantastic to see more and more people get excited about supporting their local small businesses. I believe people are increasingly becoming more aware of the positive impact their patronage can have on small locally owned businesses and the communities they help to support.”
Gift shops, antique stores, hardware and garden supply stores are just some of the interesting places to consider when planning gift ideas for collectors and do-it-yourselfers. The hard-to-buy-for people on your list may also enjoy gift certificates for coffee shops, massages, or dining. Local dining establishments are also available for special order items, as well as catering holiday events.
“The best way to help out the community,” according to Debra Brickner, co-owner of Davenport’s Tribune Smokehouse, “is through shopping, dining, and using the businesses, so they’ll be here for the people of this town and county.” Debra and Pete Brickner opened the Smokehouse in January 2016 and have found small-town business survival sometimes difficult. Although financial challenges are real (especially during the slower seasons) the Brickners continue to offer a cozy establishment that brings “good times for old friends, new friends, and people just passing through.”
Just under one and a half million independently owned businesses participated in Small Business Saturday, in 2015, serving about 95 million customers (Quittner, J., 2016). So this year, consider avoiding the hectic, crowded stores that do not redistribute revenue into our local economies and express support and gratitude for our friends and neighbors who struggle to ensure the survival of the local businesses that we know and love. These small, independently owned businesses are the foundation of what gives our local communities their hometown feel.
Amadeo, Kimberly (2017, November 2). Cyber Monday: What It Is, When It Starts, and Current Trends, The Balance.
Amadeo, Kimberly (2017, October 31). What is the History of Black Friday? The Balance.
Leadem, Rose (2017, November 9). 21 Simple Ideas for a Successful Small Business Saturday, Entrepreneur Magazine.
Quittner, James (2016). “Small Business Saturday is No Longer Just an AmEx Holiday”, Fortune.