Weekly Feature

2017-11-22 / Editorials

Small Business Saturday belongs on your shopping list

Managing Editor

I have have written about Small Business Saturday (Nov. 25) in the past, but a trendy new twist is making this year’s promotion even more relevant.

Organizers of the local shopping promotion, American Express, have a good thing going via their Twitter account, @ShopSmall. As of last weekend, it had more than 60,000 followers.

Some of the posts are intentionally humorous (sadly, photos of dogs are always a social media hit) while all are extremely positive.

The day is designed to counter the insanity of Black Friday shopping, Thanksgiving Day shopping and Thanksgiving Day Eve shopping. The good weather we have enjoyed this month is in sharp contrast to three years ago when most of Western New York was struggling with “Snowvember.”

Hence, many of us seem amazed that Christmas is but a month away.

Groupon sent out an email blitz titled “Black Friday Preview Starts NOW!” Anything of a commercial nature that combines capital letters and exclamation points should automatically be dispatched to the delete file, in my opinion.

Janey Whiteside, a senior vice president at American Express, said it best in her tweet: “Our mission is to help small businesses do more business. Go out and support them!”

The Facebook page “Skip the mall, SHOP SMALL” posted the following observation several months ago: “If each of us spent $100 more on local businesses instead of chain stores, it would put an extra $3 million a year into our economy. Not only that, but it would create thousands more jobs every year.”

Sadly, that page has not been updated in months. I hope the spirit survives.

There is a similar effort being conducted now on Facebook and Twitter. Called “Sm- BizAmerica,” both have some political leanings, but there are numerous links to information about more effective use of social media to attract customers and how to snag local shoppers year-round. Journalist Pamela N. Danziger, writing in Forbes, described how two men from New York City lost their jobs in the 2008 recession and eventually settled in the small town of Sharon Springs, New York. They purchased a 60-acre goat farm and discovered an almost instant popularity of soap made from goat’s milk.

“So much of the community helped us starting out. We didn’t know how to run a farm. We didn’t know how to make soap. We had to rely on people in our community to help us and that is why community is such an important part of our brand,” said co-owner Branch Ridge.

Smaller American communities are slowly deteriorating into a series of sterile storefronts. Where once there were several banks, there are now one or two. The same change has afflicted gas stations (which used to be “service stations”), coffee shops and appliance stores.

Black Friday has evolved into a contest of which stores will open the earliest, a veiled attempt to suggest that being up before dawn will guarantee you the best values.

Keep in mind that not every Christmas gift has to be a finished product sealed in a glossy cardboard box sealed with security tape. The raw materials for a personal gift can be acquired at a local hardware store.

The Shop Small campaign is a great incentive to patronize corner stores and eateries that are not part of a nationwide chain and should never be one of those decisions made at the last minute because of lack of forethought.

It’s where you live that matters.

(David F. Sherman is managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York, a group of community newspapers with a combined circulation of 286,500 readers. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at dsherman@beenews.com.)

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