It hasn’t been an easy couple of years for Arkansas’ small businesses, beginning with the pandemic and continuing with the resulting labor shortage and breaks in the supply chain.
But small business owners are a determined bunch. They’ve persevered, doing their best to provide the goods and services their communities need.
We have a chance this weekend to repay them by shopping small on Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, began 11 years ago as a marketing campaign to encourage people to support local stores and restaurants as they worked to get back on their feet after the Great Recession.
The campaign worked. Small businesses not only rebounded but, in many cases, expanded – but these family-run shops and restaurants need our support now more than ever.
Small businesses today are contending with many of the same problems as the big-box stores. According to a National Federation of Independent Business survey, 82% of small business owners report moderate to significant supply chain issues, while 48% report moderate to significant staffing issues.
Without our support, some local businesses might not make it, and that would be a tragedy, because small business is the beating heart of Arkansas’ economy. Over 99% of all businesses in the state are small businesses, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, and small businesses employ 47% of the state’s workforce.
These businesses aren’t owned by some faceless corporation that’s based someplace else. They’re owned by people who live in the community, by our friends and neighbors, and most of the money we spend at small businesses stays in the community – 67 cents of every dollar, according to estimates by American Express.
Small business ties our communities together. Small businesses create jobs and support local schools and charities. Small businesses also offer merchandise you might not find at a big-box retailer, and they provide a level of service that’s hard to find at the chains. And when you shop on Main Street, there’s a good chance you’re dealing directly with the owner, someone with a vested interest not only in making you a satisfied customer but in making you a regular customer.
We can’t afford to lose our small businesses and the jobs they create. We need to support them – not just on Small Business Saturday but throughout the holiday season and throughout the year.
Because when we support local businesses, we support our entire community.
Editor’s note: Sylvester Smith is the Arkansas director of the National Federation of Independent Business. The opinions expressed are those of the author.