Dense, walkable, resilient towns and cities are a key component of getting off oil, and viable main street retail is the key to having vibrant main streets. For historic preservationists concerned about the fabric of our main streets, successful stores are key to maintaining our main street buildings. That's why National Trust for Historic Preservation is behind Small Business Saturday ; the big businesses are usually in the big boxes in the 'burbs. But it isn't just about buildings; it's about jobs.
Small businesses are a job creation machine, much more labour intensive than capital intensive, and the best opportunity for creating more jobs.
Small business is the heartbeat of local communities and the engine of the US economy. Over the past two decades, small businesses created 65 percent of net new jobs.
That's another reason fixing up your main streets is better than building your new mall; Renovation Uses Twice As Much Labor and Half as Much Material as New Construction.
The money you spend on your main street in your local small business is more likely to stay in town, too; A recent study in Michigan concluded:
When West Michigan consumers choose a locally owned business over a non-local alternative, $73 of every $100 spent stays in the community. By contrast, only $43 of every $100 spent at a non-locally owned business remains in the community."
The big sponsor of Small Business Saturday is American Express, a pretty big business. A lot of small businesses do not even take Amex cards, so they are a surprising sponsor. The Boston Herald noted the contradiction:
American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation launched the concept of Small Business Saturday nestled in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. For Amex it's a chance to win customers and shine its image. The National Trust wants to support businesses that have moved into historic buildings.
Regardless of the motives, the groups seem to have tapped into what many see as a real need to support small businesses.
Michael Shuman, author of Going Local and the Small-Mart Revolution, best summarized the reasons for doing so:
Going local does not mean walling off the outside world. It means nurturing locally owned businesses which use local resources sustainably, employ local workers at decent wages and serve primarily local consumers. It means becoming more self-sufficient and less dependent on imports. Control moves from the boardrooms of distant corporations and back into the community where it belongs.
So this year, avoid the malls and the big box stores, get out and shop local, shop small business, shop quality. And support Small Business Saturday.
More on Local Shopping:
There Is More To The Local Movement Than Just Food
Shop Locally, Share Locally
Support Local Business: Help Build One
Extolling the Benefits of Local Holiday Shopping
Eco-Patriotism And Stimulating Your Local Economy