Filed Under:  Business, Economy, Entrepreneurship, Local, News

Shop small and shop often: Why small businesses matter

16th December 2013   ·   0 Comments

By David T. Baker
Contributing Writer

For those shoppers too timid to brave the mania of Black Friday but eager to get in some holiday shopping before the digital convenience of Cyber Monday, American Express once again stepped up to help businesses nationwide offer consumers another opportunity for great savings.

On November 30, New Orleans’ businesses counted themselves amongst a multitude of small businesses and communities across the nation that partnered with American Express to host the fourth annual Small Business Saturday – a day devoted to supporting America’s mom and pop businesses.

“American Express is the founding partner of Small Business Saturday, which we created four years ago. And we did so really in response to customers’ – small business owners – most pressing need which was to get more customers,” said Michelle Thompson-Dolberry, AmEx Open Executive and Small Business Saturday spokesperson.

According to American Express, the credit card company worked with the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) to institute its Small Business Saturday Insights Survey to assess their customers’ most pressing needs as small businesses. More customers was the response.

“AmEx was talking to its customers saying ‘Hey, what do you need more of to continue to do well?,’ and they said ‘More customers,’” explained Thompson-Dolberry.

In response to that need American Express decided to offer small businesses an opportunity to leverage its own marketing might to draw more customer attention. The company provided a marketing toolkit aptly named the Small Business Saturday Marketing Toolkit (available via its website Shopsmall.com) to provide businesses with “turnkey, personalized assets and materials to better promote their efforts.” That toolkit included printable signage and decals for businesses, logos and imagery for business websites and social media pages and even suggestions for social media and email templates to spread the word to customers online.

“Small-business owners are always looking for new ways to creatively promote their products and services—especially in a tough economy,” said NFIB president and CEO Dan Danner in a press release sent out by NFIB. “Small Business Saturday is a reminder of how important the small-business sector is to our economy and why it’s so important to shop small all year around.”

In New Orleans, residents were doing just that as businesses throughout the city showcased “Shop Small” stickers in their windows, signs on sidewalks near entrances offering discounts on purchases, gifts with purchases and some even hosting events.

The Urban League New Orleans this year is working with American Express as part of the company’s Neighborhood Champions program wherein AmEx works with business organizations to organize events for Small Business Saturday in communities throughout the country. On the list are organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., The Latino Coalition and American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE).

“Our efforts for the center will be concentrated at the Diaspora boutique at Ashe,” said Lynette Colin, director of the Urban League New Orleans’ Women’s Business Resource & Entrepreneur Center. Colin worked with African-American small businesses to host a day of shopping at Ashé Cultural Arts Center.

“There are a lot of minority owned retailers around the city [New Orleans] and I think people should think local first, support our local businesses and local economy,” Colin said.

“If you think about the power of our dollar, African-American consumer buying power, it’s anticipated to reach $1.1 trillion by 2015,” said Thompson-Dolberry, explaining why it’s important to support African American-owned businesses. “That’s nothing to sneeze at.”

There is, in fact, a great incentive for shopping not only with minority businesses, but with local businesses in general. That incentive is the called the multiplier effect or “local premium.”

According to AMIBA, a Bozeman, MT-based non-profit organization that helps communities to build independent business alliances (IBAs), the “multiplier effect is the boost to your local economy.”

This boost “results from locally-owned independent businesses, owners and employees spending business revenue within the region,” wrote AMIBA co-direct and co-founder Jeff Milchen in an article that appears on the organization’s website.

Milchen’s article went on to explain that “total economic impact is determined by measuring three components—the direct, indirect, and induced impacts:

• Direct impact is spending done by a business in the local economy to operate the business, including inventory, utilities, equipment and pay to employees.

• Indirect impact refers to the conventional multiplier that happens as dollars the local business spends at other area businesses re-circulate.

• Induced impact refers to the additional consumer spending that happens as employees, business owners and others spend their income in the local economy.”

Basically, money that is spent with small, local businesses typically recirculates a greater percentage of sales revenue within the community as business owners use those funds to pay for goods and services provided by other small businesses in the community.

It’s for these reasons, Thompson-Dolberry insists, that large companies like American Express support something as grassroots as Small Business Saturday. While previous years have focused on consumers, this year, Thompson-Dolberry says the focus shifted to communities.

“If we as consumers support our businesses,” Thompson-Dolberry said, “this is money that’s staying in our communities and going back to continuing to strengthen them.”

You can follow news and updates from David T. Baker on Twitter @Tadfly.

This article originally published in the December 16, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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