|Thanksgiving week is upon us, along with the influx of family, food and plenty of festivities. But this week also marks the launch of the extended holiday season and shopping aplenty. Lights are up, trees are out and stores are brimming with sales. Christmas is just around the corner, and the media is quick to remind us all to shop early. Black Friday brings out the most enthusiastic shoppers while Cyber Monday appeals to the online consumers who simply click from the comfort of their couch.
But let’s not forget about the most significant shopping day of them all…. Small Business Saturday.
For more than a decade, Small Business Saturday has reminded shoppers to support the mom-and-pop retailers, the local employers who serve as the heart of their community’s economy. Their hard work, innovation and perseverance have overcome economic challenges and financial uncertainty year in and year out. But it’s the last 20 months, during the global pandemic, that has hit the small business community especially hard. Stores have shuttered, staff is scarce, and a supply chain challenge has made it even harder for them to stay afloat. Add to that a slew of devastating hurricanes that have carved up the coast from the southwest parishes to the mouth of the Mississippi River, and it’s clear that these small businesses need our help.
Louisiana is now last in the nation in terms of recovery of COVID-related job losses, according to Gary Wagner, Acadiana business economist at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. And it’s not expected to get those jobs back for several years. Roughly 99 percent of all Louisiana businesses are small businesses. They are the major driver for Louisiana’s economy, creating two out of every three jobs in our state. Without them, our communities will not be able to bounce back from the economic decline and the devastation of the storms.
And while we can’t control the supply chain setback, or the pandemic scares, or the weather… we can make a difference, right where we are.
Take a moment and consider that local store you turn to for a special Christmas gift each year… the restaurant your family favors for every special celebration… the artisan or craftsman who makes that unique product you love. These are the people and the places who make your community your home. Small business entrepreneurs are inspiring, dependable and are making a difference in your community. You know them and they know you.
They need our support, now more than ever.
Try giving Small Business Saturday, and the weeks to come, an intentional focus. If you commit, thankfully, there are plenty of ways to do so. Perhaps you prefer the convenience of hunting for bargains and ideas through online shopping. No worries—Louisiana small businesses can compete with the big boys and are online with everything you need. Maybe your tradition is to fight the crowds and do your shopping in person with friends and family. All good there, too—small businesses have just as good a stash as the larger companies, with much shorter lines in which to wait. Remember, these small businesses are more than just an end to your holiday shopping means…they are our friends and neighbors. They are our community, the ones who step up to invest, hire and donate locally time and time again. We need them to stick around for the long haul, and a successful Christmas season for them is critical for that to happen.
This time is our chance to return the many favors small business owners have done for Louisiana communities over the years. Shopping small, especially this year, can be a big help. So make that small business list and check it twice. It just might be the only thing that keeps you off the naughty list this Christmas season.