Shopping at Small Businesses Makes Sense on Many Levels

Shopping at Small Businesses Makes Sense on Many Levels
An Op-Ed by Bryan K. Stephens, President of Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce

Shopping small is a big deal.

The barista who hands you that important start to your day. The restaurateur responsible for your lunch break oasis. The print shop that saved your afternoon presentation in the eleventh hour. You might not stop to realize it, but the majority of us work with small businesses every day. Hampton Roads could not function without our small businesses.

In fact, small businesses make up about 85 percent of the membership of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. Our community is built on small businesses and the best way to support the interests of the Hampton Roads business community and the local economy is to vote with your dollar and shop small.

By now, most people are familiar with Small Business Saturday, the push to shop at local and independent merchants the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but you might not be familiar with all the benefits of doing so. Unlike Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday isn’t just about finding a great deal, it’s about putting your money where it can benefit you the most – your local economy.

When you patronize local small businesses, you indirectly benefit in a multitude of ways. One of the most important benefits is the fact your tax dollars stay local. A series of studies by the research firm Civic Economics found that 48 percent of purchases at local independent businesses go right back into the community, compared to less than 14 percent of sales made at chain stores.

When you shop local your tax dollars stay local, going toward public services, better schools and libraries. You’ll also help create employment opportunities right here in Hampton Roads, stimulating our economy and creating a domino effect.

Small businesses are champions of the local community. Of course, large businesses also make a huge impact on community prosperity with large donations of money and man hours, and our large business partners in Hampton Roads are great examples of social corporate responsibility at work. However, small businesses often commit to improving our local community on a more personal level, such as sponsoring Little League teams or taking part in community block parties.

Small businesses often buy more locally sourced goods as well, pushing more of their profit back into the community. Working together with larger partners, our Hampton Roads small businesses form the backbone of support for our communities. That’s why it’s important to keep them in mind when you’re doing your holiday shopping this year.

Of course, the Chamber encourages shopping at Hampton Roads small businesses year-round, but just how important is this shopping season for retailers? Studies show that, depending on the type of store and products sold, up to 80 percent of a store’s annual sales may take place between Black Friday and Christmas Eve. This is a tremendous gamble for any retailer, hoping the cash flow generated in this short period will enable the business to remain in operation.

For small, independently owned retailers, the stakes at this time of year could literally make or break a business, which in turn, has implications for you and your community.

Nearly all of the successful large corporations whose names are household words for many of us started as small businesses. The small businesses we patronize today could become the region’s largest employer.

So when you start planning your holiday shopping strategy, remember the small retailer and the very important contributions he or she makes to our community. Remember they are our neighbors and they are invested in the success of their city or county, just like you.

Do yourself a favor this holiday shopping season and shop small to make a big impact on our community.

Bryan K. Stephens is the president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.

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The Chamber’s staff continues to be focused on helping you and your business find greater success.  Remember, this is YOUR Chamber – we work for you!  Let’s keep the conversation going.  

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