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Why Small Business Saturday is So Important to Local Retailers

Hidden Treasures Gifts & Book-Tea-Que

November 14, 2018

Being part of the retail industry for more than 30 years, I have seen more changes in the past five years than I have seen in the 25 before that. In the 1990s, when I began working retail in Valley West Mall, the mall was the place to be. Retail was thriving in large malls and strip malls alike. Department and specialty stores had everything anyone would want to buy and the thought of purchasing something online was just an idea in someone's head in a land far, far away. However, by the early 2000s that all began to change and the e-commerce world exploded making it difficult for any and all brick and mortars.

Related: How to Survive and Thrive Amid the 'Retail Apocalypse'

Even though many businesses have social media accounts and websites, it's isn't always easy to keep up with the online competition. In order to keep foot traffic coming through our doors, we've had to become more creative. One special event for small business owners is Small Business Saturday. While the big box stores and online retailers have Black Friday and Cyber Monday respectively, small businesses began to lay claim to the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It was launched by a not-so-small company, American Express, and has seen a swell in support in the past few years.

Small Business Saturday has become important to independent retailers and many will plan sales and specials around this Saturday in November. What has made this day even more special in the past few years is to hear from our customers that they purposefully shop local on that date because they want to show their support and keep their favorite local small business around for a while.

Why Days Like Small Business Saturday are so Important

While we all do online shopping, I don’t think we honestly consider the serious consequences of what that convenience might have. Do you know that when we consumers shop locally, the money we spend goes back into the community in which we shop? Do we realize that money spent in our local restaurants, boutiques, grocery stores, salons, etc., is the livelihood for the owner(s) and his/her employees? Do we think about the fact that the taxes paid at these local establishments goes back into our state, which will help in areas we might not think about? 

Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve thought that deeply about it before, but as a small business owner, I now think about it all the time. If we don’t want to see stores, large or small, continue to close, we need to realize that shopping locally isn’t inconvenient or too time-consuming as we’ve allowed ourselves to think but is rather time and money well-spent in my community.  

While planning shopping for the holidays, or any special occasion, I strongly recommend considering our local businesses.  What they offer to their customers is often special, one of a kind and may even offer "made in the USA" items. Many local businesses strive to bring in local products. At Hidden Treasures Gifts, more than 25 percent of the inventory is handcrafted or grown by individuals from our community or connected to someone in the community.  We carry honey from a local orchard and garden in Altoona, pottery from someone in Greater Des Moines (DSM), coffee from a vendor in Runnells, T-shirts from a designer in Ankeny, artwork and plaques from an artist in Cedar Falls, Iowa, unique handmade cards from someone in Colorado, books from several local authors, and Iowa and Iowa State apparel and accessories from a company based out of Perry, Iowa.  

Buying from a local business on Small Business Saturday, or any day for that matter, reaches further than one might imagine and can, surprisingly enough, be a way to really give back to your community! 

During this holiday season, find a small local business and shop!

When businesses and residents Look Local First is an initiative of the Greater Des Moines Partnership that aims to encourage businesses and consumers to support local business. By doing so it creates jobs, improves roadways, bolsters schools, develops parks, grows businesses and makes Greater Des Moines (DSM) even greater.