Nestled between the Black Friday bargains and Cyber Monday sales, shoppers can make a big impact locally on the 10th annual Small Business Saturday.
American Express launched the first Small Business Saturday in 2010 to bring more holiday shopping to small businesses. Always the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday falls this year on Nov. 30.
Judi Mellon, executive director of the East Hawaii Small Business Development Center, said Small Business Saturday has “gained a lot of momentum over time, and it’s recognized much more.”
“In my opinion, it’s a great way for small businesses to take advantage of a national advertising campaign that is paid for by American Express.”
There’s an advertising campaign, and social media-ready materials, which can be personalized and used, are provided to participating businesses, Mellon said.
“So,to me, it’s really a great way for small businesses to hop on,” she said. “It reinforces the idea that shopping small benefits our community. So that’s why I’m such an advocate for it.”
According to Mellon, data show that shopping in locally owned businesses keeps “a much higher percentage of our money in our community.”
When shopping in local stores, 48 cents of every dollar stays on the Big Island, compared to just 13.6 cents of every dollar spent in chain retailers, she said.
And at locally owned restaurants, 65 cents of every dollar is recirculated in the local economy, compared to 35 cents of every dollar when patronizing chain restaurants.
Additionally, a survey of small business owners, conducted last year by American Express, found that more people are making Small Business Saturday an annual shopping tradition, and that shoppers are “more aware that their shopping local promotes a more vibrant local community,” Mellon said.
In the same survey, small businesses said that 29% of their total annual sales occur during the holiday season, and 59% said Small Business Saturday is significant to their sales.
There’s a “big impact when we shop local,” Mellon said. “So Small Business Saturday helps send that message out.”
Mellon first learned of Small Business Saturday while visiting Truckee, Calif., in 2012, and became a “neighborhood champion” in 2014.
The Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce got involved in 2017 and 2018.
This is the third year the chamber has been involved.
HICC Executive Officer Miles Yoshioka said in past years, as a neighborhood champion, chamber members walked throughout the downtown Hilo area offering information about Small Business Saturday.
The chamber’s Membership and Economic Development committees again will take to the streets of Hilo on Monday, “armed with promotional material from Small Business Saturday and distributing them to shop owners around the downtown area.”
“I think what’s great about the program is that it brings attention to the importance of these community members who are our family, friends and neighbors who are small business owners,” Yoshioka said.
While Small Business Saturday in Hilo hasn’t grown by leaps and bounds, Yoshioka said more people are aware now “and hopefully they keep it in mind. Instead of shopping online, they can support their neighbors by buying local.”
“Ours is a small community,” he said. “… We learn that the strength in the community is through members supporting each other. So we’re hoping people do take advantage of any deals or specials any local vendors will be offering, and we hope this will encourage them to shop local this holiday season.”
Interest in Small Business Saturday movement also is growing in other areas of the island.
According to Mellon, other neighborhood champions include the Manono Street Marketplace, Honokaa Business Association, Pahoa Mainstreet Association and Naalehu town.
Myrna Green, fundraising chairwoman and hospitality chairwoman for the Honokaa Business Association, said many Honokaa shops will participate.
“It’s always very important to shop locally, because that’s what helps business in the area grow,” she said.
Green owns a small in-home business making stuffed toys, stick horses, dolls and handcrafted items, which she sells at Topstitch in downtown Honokaa.
“It just makes people more aware what’s available right in their local neighborhood,” she said of Small Business Saturday. “By supporting local people, that money’s fed back into the community. It’s just beneficial for everybody locally and makes the whole town viable.”
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