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Shop small this holiday season

Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday, was expected to bring in more than $16 billion in revenue for small businesses across the country. Shopping for holiday gifts at local retailers, or purchasing crafts from local artisans or dining at locally owned restaurants keeps money in the communities. Corporate giants like American Express have assumed a role in growing the ìShop Smallî movement to support its cardmembers and merchant services customers.ìAmerican Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010 in response to small businesses most pressing needs: more visibility, more attention and more sales,î said Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle, spokeswoman for American Express Small Business Saturday. ìWhat started as a single Facebook page generated 1.2 million likes. By 2011, the United States Senate recognized Small Business Saturday as an official holiday. You can see significant growth every year from participation of businesses, communities and consumers.îThe messaging of Small Business Saturday continues throughout the holiday season and year-round, Leinbach-Reyhle said. ìThe hashtag #ShopSmall is a way for small businesses to incorporate it into their social media messaging,î she said. ìPeople can use that to discover what is going on in their community.îShopping at locally owned businesses is always a benefit to areas like the Pikes Peak region, but the holiday season is particularly important for retail businesses. ìVery generally speaking, most retail businesses are oriented to the shopping season,î said Mark Dye, volunteer with SCORE Colorado Springs. ìWe wouldn’t say that’s a good idea but neither would we condemn it. But it’s a fact of life that many businesses build around.îSCORE is a nationwide resource partner of the Small Business Administration that connects small businesses through mentors and workshops. ìPlanning for seasonality is to build a financial model that can survive or compensate for that seasonality,î Dye said. ìTo overcome that would be to offer a parallel model or alternative products, which are counter-seasonal, but would be biased toward non-holiday.îVolunteer mentors at SCORE offer planning help, and organizations like Small Business Saturday offer more tactical marketing help. ìSmall Business Saturday has what is called a ‘shop small studio’ with resources and inspiration, with ideas for small businesses to kick off the holiday season,î Leinbach-Reyhle said.The efforts to bring more attention to shopping small and local for the holidays and every day seem to be working. Fifty-eight percent of U.S. consumers are aware of Small Business Saturday, the highest rate since its inception. Sixty-two percent of consumers say they choose to shop at small retailers and independently-owned restaurants because they ìvalue the contributions small businesses make to their community,î according to the Consumer Insights Survey released Nov. 17 by the National Federation of Independent Businesses.While better deals for similar gifts might be found online or at large box store retailers, 79 percent of the respondents in the NFIB survey ìsay they are willing to pay slightly more for an item if it is purchased from a small, independently-owned retailer as opposed to online or at a large retailer.îìSmall businesses across the nation are often run by the friends, family and neighbors that we know so well, so supporting them is not only personal but critical to their success,î said Juanita Duggan, president and CEO of NFIB.Dollars spent by consumers at small businesses have an ongoing effect because those entrepreneurs are more likely to do business with other local small businesses. Seventy-percent of small business entrepreneurs purchase local goods and services, and 83 percent make a point of shopping small for their personal needs, according to the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. About 25 percent more of dollars spent at a local business stays in the community, as opposed to national chains. Almost none of the money spent comes back to the local area when purchases are made from out-of-state or foreign online stores.ìOn average, one third of U.S. consumers are expected to buy from small businesses during the holiday season,î Leinbach-Reyhle said. However, 91 percent say that small, independent shops and restaurants are important to them. American Express partnered with local organizations like Colorado Springs’ Downtown Partnership, Manitou Springs and the town of Monument as ìNeighborhood Championsî to bridge the gap and encourage consumers to keep their gift dollars in their communities.Meanwhile, business mentoring groups like Colorado Springs SCORE are eager to work with small businesses to plan for success year-round. ìWe talk about the success factors that help every business, and help equip our clients with those success factors,î Dye said. ìI would say failure to plan adequately is the root cause of a vast majority of small business failures. The concept is simple but putting it into effect is harder.î

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