Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 11/29/2010 [Archive]

Go Local

Go Local

By Martha Randolph Carr

All across the nation the first Small Business Saturday is being reported as a financial home run for smaller, locally owned businesses. In past years smaller businesses have cried foul over the more traditional Black Friday when shoppers turn out in droves but mostly for big box door buster deals.

Black Friday was originally coined to mark the day after Thanksgiving when retailers say they're either pulled into the financial black by shoppers or condemned to the red for the year. The day officially kicks off holiday shopping and sets the trends for the stores, which is why the bigger retailers are willing to be so aggressive with both marketing and sale prices.

It's come to mean four a.m. shopping sprees at large retailers who've been advertising 42 inch flat screen TVs for $100. There's always a limited supply but still the ploy works as hundreds wait in line in the dark for the doors to open.

It can be difficult for a smaller, individual shop to be heard over the din.

However, this year the smaller business owner has gotten more wily and used their strengths to come up with a plan. First, they got that customers are more concerned about price right now than anything else. So, maybe a small shop can't always compete with price but there's more than one way to cut cost.

American Express OPEN, the small business division of American Express and founder of Small Business Saturday, offered $25 dollars credit to cardholders statements for any shopping done at small businesses last Saturday.

Some of the participating businesses even got into the spirit of the day and offered free iPads to shoppers who spent over a certain amount or offered larger discounts and even refreshments.

Recently, I put out a holiday book list of great books that you may have missed and failed to point out that this was an opportunity to shop, even online, at an independent bookseller.

Fortunately, I have great readers and Loretta Vail of Winder, Georgia caught my oversight. Her husband, Tom Vail has owned Corner Bookstore in Winder, www.cornerbookstorewinder.com for the past 14 years and along with independent bookstores everywhere, can help someone find a book they'd love to give or to read.

There's a notion in general that the big box, giant retailers are fueling the economy and will be what hauls us out of the Great Recession. However, Small Business Saturday, www.smallbusinesssaturday.com has a few fun facts that will not only enlighten but hopefully influence who we support bailing out or giving tax breaks to in the future.

For the past ten years, 60 to 80 percent of the new jobs that were created every year were from small businesses and they make up 99.7 percent of all employer firms and employ half of all private sector employees.

That also means that when the Feds spent billions to bail out big business and then ignored the smaller businesses and did nothing to bolster lines of credit for them, which are vital to their day-to-day operations, we insured that the Great Recession was going to sink in that much deeper.

That doesn't mean we have to behave just like the decision makers we've elected. Americans come together as a country but we live our lives from day to day on a very local level. We can choose to shop locally and there's even a better payoff for that according to Small Business Saturday. Of every $100 spent, $68 of those dollars returns to the community through taxes that help pay for schools, infrastructure and other services.

This holiday season as you head out to spend your hard earned money remember that it's not only price that matters and take back some of your community's economic power by where you choose to shop. Martha's latest book is the memoir, A Place to Call Home. www.MarthaRandolphCarr.com. Email Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.

© 2010 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email Sales@cagle.com.

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