By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @DinwiddieMonitr
Posted: November 23, 2018 | 1:45 p.m.
VIRGINIA – This week, along with the turkey, ham and all the sides dishes the mind can think off, plenty of newspapers filled with sales circulars will be strewn across living room tables and even floors as people hunt for Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday sales deals for the upcoming Christmas season but, a movement that continues to gain momentum seeks to remind people to bring their wallets to small businesses in their community.
American Express’ “Small Business Saturday” initiative has received strong support from businesses since the credit card company started it in 2010 as a way to help small businesses get more customers, now growing into a yearly tradition where consumers shirk traditional big box stores on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to instead shop and eat at local businesses in their community.
“Because an average two-thirds of every dollar, 67 cents, spent at small businesses in the U.S. stays in the local community, consumers’ local impact during the important holiday shopping season could be significant,” officials with American Express explained in the lead-up to this week’s Small Business Saturday. “Further, every dollar spent at small businesses creates an additional 50 cents in local business activity as a result of employee spending and businesses purchasing local goods and services,” citing research conducted by the company.
In an American Express study, it was revealed if small businesses in the U.S., defined as businesses employing fewer than 100 employees, were a country, they would have a GDP of $4.8 trillion, equivalent to the GDP of Japan, the third largest economy in the world.
It also found, “In addition to small businesses directly employing members of the community, spending by those small businesses and their employees in the area also supports local jobs,” adding, “for every ten jobs at a small business, another seven are supported in the local community.”
While an American Express survey found 9 in 10 consumers believe it’s more important than ever to support small businesses, particularly during the upcoming holiday season, some small business operators feel they are forgotten and overlooked as shoppers flock to big-box stores that are sometimes well outside of their community.
“I think people tend to forget if they don’t support the small businesses, it is hard for small businesses to support the local ball teams, the Ruritan organizations, and other local activities,” owner and operator of Ragsdale Building Supply Charlotte Ragsdale shared. “A lot of small businesses in our communities do support local activities much more so than the box stores or online retailers.”
In Dinwddie County, the Commissioner of Revenue’s Office reported there are over 11,000 businesses within the county’s 507-square-miles, the vast majority of them being small businesses. For County Administrator Kevin Massengill, that statistic serves as a reminder of the economic footprint of small businesses in the county.
“Small businesses are vital to the local economy,” he remarked. “In addition to generating tax revenue, small businesses typically employ local citizens, which boosts our employment rate,” noting the county’s unemployment rate as of September 2018 rested at 3.3 percent.
According to the survey by American Express, 83 percent of shoppers said they planned to do some portion of their holiday shopping at a small, independently owned retailer or business, be it in person or online, with 80 percent of those surveyed saying they plan to shop local during the November 24 Small Business Saturday event.
For many small businesses, it’s about carrying the energy and momentum from the one-day-a-year event that Small Business Saturday is and transforming it into a year-long action by consumers to spend their dollars locally with locally-owned businesses, something Ragsdale said isn’t occurring as often as she and others would like to see.
“Sadly, it’s not what you would hope it would be considering the things we do try to do to support the county,” Ragsdale remarked. “People just tend to have the big-box store mentality. They will drive by a Ragsdale’s or Sutherland Sporting Goods to go to a Dick’s Sporting Goods.”
“I can say that’s true for at least half of the businesses out here,” she continued. “We were recently asked to help with the Grand Illumination. We do that every year because we believe it’s the right thing to do. I do wish we would see more people supporting the local economy.”
Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors Chairman and business owner Dr. Mark Moore spoke to the connections small businesses have in the community, establishing roots that can last for generations.
“As a small business owner, I can attest to the fact that our success is dependent on the loyalty of our customers. We work hard to establish relationships and gain the trust and respect of our customers,” he said. “As a member of the Board of Supervisors, I can also attest to the fact that small business is the backbone of the local economy.
He continued, “The majority of ‘big’ businesses, got their start as a small, local business. Dinwiddie’s small business community includes a large percentage of agri-businesses, which combine the County’s agricultural heritage with value-added product.”
As a small business owner, Ragsdale believes the goals of Small Business Saturday does help to get consumers locally thinking about the impact their dollar has on a local business as opposed to a larger corporation.
“I am right there with my pocketbook leading the charge,” she remarked. “We, too, right there, making sure we are shopping local and supporting small businesses.”
Morgan Ingram, the county’s director economic development works closely with businesses large and small and discussed how Dinwiddie works to help the county’s backbone of small businesses thrive in the county and beyond.
“Currently, Virginia considers a business small if it has fewer than 250 employees or averages gross annual receipts of $10 million or less over the previous three years,” she explained. “Dinwiddie’s small businesses are an integral piece of our local economy and are critical to supporting and giving back to our community, creating jobs, and entrepreneurship.”
She continued, “Dinwiddie County’s Economic Development Office works closely with the Crater Small Business Development Center of Longwood University. The services and resources that this organization offers small businesses is invaluable. Anyone that is considering starting or expanding a small business should reach out to the local Director, Ms. Ellen Templeton at (804) 518-2003.”
For Ragsdale and other local businesses in the region, each dollar a shopper spends in an independently run business helps sustain that business, allowing it to continue to be a tax revenue and job generator for the community while serving to support local efforts that go beyond business.
“You shouldn’t take a business for granted,” she remarked. “Just because we are here today doesn’t mean we will be here tomorrow unless we have the support of the community.”
“Dinwiddie is blessed to have a diverse base of small businesses, which are the heartbeat of our community,” County Administrator Massengill said. “National initiatives such as Small Business Saturday are important because they increase awareness of the importance of local businesses, by placing it at the forefront of our minds. I intend to shop local on Small Business Saturday and encourage everyone else to do the same.”
Small Business Saturday is Saturday, November 24 and shoppers are being encouraged by American Express to “Shop Small” by visiting and making purchases at local businesses in their community and to chronicle their Small Business Saturday by using the hashtags #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat.