Shop small all year long

As consumers gear up for the holiday retail season, a message of shopping small is being spread by local business owners — not just during Small Business Saturday, but year round.

“It’s all about keeping business going in your community,” said Cathy Miller, owner of the Gold Connection in Warren.

The national movement, celebrated the Saturday following Thanksgiving, got its start in 2010, and appears to be thriving. Since Small Business Saturday began, U.S. customers have reported spending an estimated $85 billion at independent retailers and restaurants, according to information provided by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). The estimates for 2018 are 108 million shoppers will spend $12.9 billion.

Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber officials fully support the shopping local initiative.

“As a business service organization, we certainly encourage residents and visitors to shop local and use the services of any of our nearly 2,600 chamber members,” said Sarah Boyarko, chief operating officer and senior vice president of economic development. “Shopping local promotes jobs creation and ongoing investment to support a thriving community.”

On average, 67 cents of every dollar spent at a small business stays local, according to Econsult Solutions’ 2018 Small Business Economic Impact Study. Broken down, 44 cents goes toward wages and benefits and 23 cents is reinvested in other local business. Some 90 percent of consumers surveyed said Small Business Saturday has had a positive impact on their community.

“It is convenient having businesses right here in the area that are small and family-owned,” said Miller, who soon plans to retire, adding she’s grateful to customers who have stopped by her store for the past 33 years.

All American Wheels co-owner Randy Kirnec, although admittedly disappointed by the 2017 turnout, said, “It’s always good to shop locally.”

In addition, Econsult Solutions’ survey reports for every $1 spent at a small business, it creates, on average, an additional 50 cents in economic impacts for the local community — 30 cents to local supplies and vendors and 20 cents spent locally by business owners and employees.

According to the Consumer Insights Survey, 83 percent of consumers surveyed plan to do at least some portion of their holiday shopping at a small, independently owned retailer or restaurant — either in person or online. The survey also indicated that 80 percent plan to “shop small” at independently-owned retailers or restaurants on the day.

“When shoppers spend locally at small businesses, communities win,” said Juanita D. Duggan, CEO and president of the National Federation of Independent Business, a partner with American Express in the Small Business Saturday initiative. “We encourage consumers to celebrate Small Business Saturday by shopping at small and independent shops and restaurants.”

Darlene Argeras, co-owner of Computer Stitch in Warren, said, “It means a lot to a small business when people keep coming back.”

Although Argeras’ business will not be open, she said, “I don’t think it matters if you’re open this Saturday or not, we’d like people to support small businesses. Whether it’s Monday or Friday, it doesn’t matter.”

Boyarko said, “Supporting a local business or entrepreneur has a clear impact on the sustainability of any community. Simply put, more of your money stays local when you shop local. The sustainability of any community is supported by the retention and growth of local companies on an annual basis.”

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