On Saturday, community members are encouraged to take a break from crowded shopping centers and head to their local stores to support the small businesses that help make their community a success.
President and CEO of the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce Pam Carnes said spending money at locally owned small businesses doesn’t just help the shops, it helps the community.
“We support our county by attending sporting events for our children, we support our community by participating in civic- or faith-based organizations, but in supporting the businesses that are here in our community, that’s a long-term trickle effect,” Carnes said. “Spending locally helps enhance the schools, enhance public safety and enhance our parks. Everything that’s attached to SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), we’re supporting that every time we make a purchase … in so many ways, that money comes back to our county to fund services and activities for the residents of our community.”
Fred Elsberry, president and CEO of the Atlanta Better Business Bureau, said small, local businesses have a huge impact on the health of local, national and worldwide economies.
“Not only is it an important part of the local economy, but aggregated together, small businesses are very important for the national and even the global economy,” Elsberry said. “It’s just a good idea to try and keep your money local and support those local businesses, and encourage your friends and family to shop at them, as well.”
Carnes said businesses that are part of a larger chain have a “little bit of a leg up” because their companies have name recognition, and independent businesses work hard to gain recognition in the community.
“Those folks that own a small business, they don’t necessarily have the support of the bigger audience, they depend on consumers in order to sell their goods and pay their bills,” Carnes said. “Especially for someone that owns a business that is theirs, in most cases, this is their sole livelihood. All small business owners are working to make a living.”
Elsberry added that “every big business started out as a small business.”
“This develops that entrepreneurial spirit that just sets us apart, as a market-based economy, from a lot of the various economic structures that are out there,” Elsberry said.
Carnes said Cherokee County has so many unique shopping opportunities that consumers can find almost anything they could want or need.
“Cherokee County is unique in its own right, but I think that our shopping opportunities are, as well,” Carnes said. “One thing we have to remember is that we have to look outside the lines, we aren’t going to find everything in one given shopping area, because throughout Cherokee County small businesses are scattered and there are these unique shops in every unique corner of our community, and as consumers, that’s what we’re here to do—to support our county.”
From unique gifts to gourmet foods, neighborhood business offer a variety of holiday shopping options, and according to the campaign, 52 percent of what is spent stays in the community, Elsberry said.
“I know my wife loves these little, small stores, where there are gifts you’re just not going to find at any large retailers, and so many other choices to really make the holiday a special time,” Elsberry said.
Many Cherokee County cities have quaint downtown areas with a range of shopping opportunities, and Elsberry said that supporting these locally owned stored is a great way to support the economy.
“Certainly there’ll be a time for us to visit the larger retail stores and big box stores, but don’t forget those small companies. I think this economic downturn has really helped us understand how important small business is to the economic health of our country,” Elsberry said. “This is the fourth year, last year was a huge year for it… this year we’re hoping it’ll be even bigger and better.”
Carnes said that the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce supports spending at local businesses, especially during the holidays.
“Think Cherokee first,” she urged.
Small Business Saturday was started by American Express OPEN in 2010, and was officially recognized by the U.S. Senate in 2011. The campaign has grown to be a movement supported by millions nationwide, and in 2012, an estimated $5.5 billion was spent at small, independent retailers, according to American Express.