Keeping dollars local

Published 9:34 am Friday, November 25, 2016

Albert Lea businesses prepare for Small Business Saturday


The concept of Black Friday — the tradition of starting Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving — has been around for decades. Some say it originated back in 1932, the year of the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

In recent years, another shopping trend has become more of a tradition, as well — Small Business Saturday.

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Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses across the country, always on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. The concept was started as a marketing campaign by American Express in 2010, and has since morphed into its own movement.

“Why are small businesses so important?” an American Express press release said. “Because when customers spend where they live, communities get stronger and main streets stay vibrant.”

Locally owned businesses have their own sales each year on Small Business Saturday, as it’s harder for independent businesses to compete with the larger chain stores that tend to dominate Black Friday.

“It’s helped all of us understand how important small businesses are,” said Tami Staker, owner of Celebrations Party & Gifts in downtown Albert Lea.

According to the Small Business Administration, there are 23 million small businesses in the United States, which is a 49 percent increase from 1982. Small businesses have created 8 million jobs since 1990, and 54 percent of U.S. sales happen at small businesses. Franchised small businesses employ roughly 8 million people, and are responsible for 40 percent of all American retail jobs.

Staker said she and her business have been involved with Small Business Saturday since it started, and that multiple businesses in the area take part in Small Business Saturday by having special sales and other events to make the day special for customers.

“It’s a way for us to appreciate and thank our customers, too,” Staker said.

She said small businesses are important because they’re more likely to donate to and support local causes, and that the money spent at small businesses tends to stay local more than money spent at larger businesses.

According to an SBA civic economics study, small businesses donate 250 percent more than larger businesses to nonprofits and local community causes. The study also said that out of $100 spent at a local business, roughly $68 stays in the local economy. Comparatively, only about $43 would stay local out of $100 spent at a larger business.

Staker said when she moved to the Albert Lea area about 12 years ago, everyone seemed to go out of town to do their Christmas shopping. An economic downturn had led to some businesses shuttering, and the necessity for customers to take advantage of sales offered by larger stores drove revenue outside of Albert Lea for the most part.

“I think now it’s our job to get it back,” she said.

Staker bought Celebrations in 2009, and said since the start of Small Business Saturday she has seen the movement grow and expand. She said the resurgence of downtown businesses in Albert Lea — from new businesses opening to pop-up shops and Wind Down Wednesday — has helped make Small Business Saturday more significant in Albert Lea each year.

According to Small Business Saturday statistics, 95 million people went out to shop small during the 2015 event. Spending reached $16.2 billion, which was a 14 percent increase from 2014.

This Saturday should be no different, as at least $17.8 billion is projected to be spent, which would be a 10 percent increase from 2015.

About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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