There is something unique about growing up in a small town that gravitates you toward shopping locally. Whether it’s pride, duty or genuine support of a friend or family member, knowing your dollar has gone to not only a community member, but a business owner you trust makes every purchase that much more special.
You want to walk through those doors. You want to shop there first. You want to brag to others that your town has the best burger joint or music store.
I’ve supported local businesses my entire life. Whether it was eating the best pizza in the world at Pizza Place on Main Street, going to my local sports card and memorabilia shop, Dakota Dick’s, Saturday mornings or buying my first guitar at Craig’s Music, small businesses were my go-to spots in my hometown of Weatheford, Texas.
As I grew up, I got to know the owners of these shops personally. They would say hello and call me by my first name when I walked through the door. The guitar salesman at Craig’s would take me to their secret room to show-off his most recent vintage guitar acquisition, and would even let me play an instrument that cost somewhere close to a year’s tuition at a state university.
The owner of the Pizza Place knew my family so well and loved seeing us in his restaurant on a weekly basis that he even helped us out when my father was laid off in 2005. He told us we would never have to pay anything over $20 to eat at his restaurant. Still. to this day, he won’t let us pay over $20. He calls it “The Ries Special.”
My father, a lover of small businesses as well, now owns and operates a landscaping company in town and is doing quite well. He takes pride in his work and always makes sure the customers feel special.
Even in Austin, Texas, the “shop local” flag flies high. It’s part of the culture and community to support small businesses. It has strengthened the cities economy and created an identity for one of the fastest growing cities in the country. When you come to Austin, you expect to eat one-of-a-kind food, drink at one-of-a-kind bars and shop at one-of-a-kind stores.
As the holiday season quickly approaches and you start running around town buying gifts, think about the small businesses first. Small Business Saturday is November 30. And while retail supergiant stores may have unbelievable Black Friday deals, consider the mom and pop shops too. Eat at local restaurants with fresh ingredients. Explore the places that make your city unique!
I really love what a small business in Detroit is doing to bring attention to Small Business Satuday. Pure Detroit has cafes and apparel stores in the city, and has come up with a creative way to celebrate the occasion. They created a Small Business Passport to get more people to shop locally throughout the city.
Customers can get their Small Business Passport stamped at any of the 18 participating businesses. The stamp gives the customer can earn anywhere between a 10 percent and 25 percent discount as well as a hot beverage.
And in a city that has faced its fair share of troubles in the past, this is a great way to get people out and putting dollars back into the city.
So mark it down. November 30, 2013 is Small Business Saturday across the country. Gather your friends or family members and get out in your community. Support local restaurant and retail shops as you start your holiday season shopping.
I know I will.