HILO — Between the Black Friday bargains and Cyber Monday sales, holiday shoppers can make a big impact locally by shopping small on Small Business Saturday.
American Express launched the first Small Business Saturday in 2010 to bring more holiday shopping to small businesses. Always the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday is today.
This is the second year that the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce has participated in the Small Business Saturday promotion locally.
HICC Executive Officer Miles Yoshioka said the chamber has been named a “neighborhood champion” and as such, promises to reach out to small businesses in the community and share promotional materials and “swag” to build awareness of the program.
“The majority of our chamber members are small businesses, so as a way of supporting them (and) encouraging people to buy small, buy local, we felt it was so appropriate for us to support this,” Yoshioka said.
Yoshioka said small businesses give back to the community, whether it’s through supporting schools or being part of community associations and nonprofit organizations.
“It’s many of these shop owners who are involved, so if we can support them, they in turn are able to support our town, support our neighborhood (and) also add to our taxes.”
Judi Mellon, center director for the Small Business Development Center East Hawaii shared similar sentiments.
“When you shop local, you’re supporting the local soccer team, someone’s ballet lesson … There’s real people involved in this. Real lives in our own community.”
Mellon said she is the “overall neighborhood champion” and first learned of Small Business Saturday while visiting Truckee, Calif. in 2012, which was “all decked out in Small Business Saturday blue and white stuff. I was thinking then Hilo is the perfect town for this.”
The economy here is “very small business-oriented,” she said.
While it’s hard to quantify, Mellon estimates that last year there were probably 40-50 businesses participating in Small Business Saturday in some way.
“This year, we certainly anticipate having more than that.”
When shopping at a chain retail store, for example, 13.6 cents of every dollar “circulates in our community,” whereas it’s 48 cents of every dollar when shopping in independent businesses, she said.
Likewise, when shopping at chain restaurants, 34.5 percent of each dollar stays local, but 65.4 percent stays in the community when patronizing a local, independent restaurant, Mellon said.
Additionally, locally owned businesses contribute 3.5 times more money to local nonprofits than box stores.
“I always tell people maybe they’re going to go on Black Friday to the big box store, but don’t shop there on Small Business Saturday,” Mellon said. “On Small Business Saturday, go to our local (shops).”
Last year, U.S. shoppers spent nearly $13 billion at small, independent stores and restaurants the Saturday after Thanksgiving, according to a survey by NFIB and American Express. Ninety percent of consumers surveyed said Small Business Saturday has a positive impact on their communities.
Ipyana Mattos has owned downtown’s Haleigh Rose Boutique for the past five years. She has participated in Small Business Saturday in past years and plans to do so again next Saturday.
Mattos said the store usually tries to offer some incentive for shoppers like discounts, and this year will also work with women at other small businesses to provide cupcakes and personalized goodie bags to customers.
Haleigh Rose faces competition from mainstream chains and online retailers, but when customers take their time to “come in to support us, that makes it so special,” she said.
That’s why Mattos said she likes to be a part of Small Business Saturday, “because it means a lot for us.”
“Each person with a small business, that’s like your baby,” she said. “This is like my baby and every time I see people supporting me … coming and supporting us, that makes me happy. My dream is alive. It’s still going.”
Email Stephanie Salmons at firstname.lastname@example.org.