Small Business Saturday: Evaluation

As many of you know, Small Business Saturday was yesterday and many, many people in New Orleans crossed their fingers hoping their Mom-and-Pop shop would really come out on top for the weekend. I worked in my shop and supported my local bookstore, so how did I fare?

First, some background. Everyone knows what it is like to rush into your local big-box retailer on Black Friday for deals on a myriad of items or holding off until the following Monday to go crazy on Amazon or another online retailer on Cyber Monday. However, how much of that money generated from those purchases actually goes back into your local community and economy?

Let’s talk a few numbers. There are 27 million small business nationwide which employ 77 million Americans. Small businesses increase local real estate values by 50% and 3 out of every 4 dollars spent locally go back into the community.

Not so small now, huh? Small Businesses contribute to the makeup of America in such a massive way that American Express took initiative in 2010 to launch the first Small Business Saturday and give small business a platform we rightfully deserve. The day turned out to be a massive success and, to talk a few more numbers, 95 million people come out to shop and 14.3 billion was spent on that single day across the country.

After the initial launch of Small Business Saturday, the United States Senate unanimously supported a resolution to honor the day and what it brings to local economies. In these volatile political times, Small Business Saturday represents the nonpartisan, core values of the American Dream—hard work, perseverance and creativity that uplifts communities.

In New Orleans, Small Business Saturday shows solidarity within neighborhoods, our city and our global community. But, personally, it’s hard not to be a bit disheartened by my personal Small Business Saturday experience.

The shop I work at is up and coming in a neighborhood that is classified as low-income and full of artists and vagabond types. A lot of patrons are visitors staying at AirBnB’s or are recommended by their friends or family who live in the neighborhood, many of which have told me they can’t afford to shop at the store but love the products.

Unfortunately, Small Business Saturday didn’t fare well for me. It was chilly, sure, there was 0 foot traffic, right. But the more upsetting thing is the reality that I know people care about supporting local goods, or I like to think the city does, but it’s hard to thrive when the people around you cannot afford your goods.

I’m crossing my fingers that other efforts will help to bolster businesses that also didn’t fare so well for Small Business Saturday, but it’s incredibly unfortunate to feel that the people around you simply don’t care or interact or find the same value in cultivating entrepreneurs.

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