This Saturday in Columbia, consumers are expected to flood downtown to support the growing nationwide movement of Small Business Saturday.
With many department stores offering deals on Black Friday to kick off the holiday shopping season, and as Cyber Monday has gained traction for online purchases, there has been a growing movement to make sure local businesses don’t get left behind.
Sandwiched between the two shopping days dominated by corporate institutions, Small Business Saturday has grown as a response.
“Independent and small businesses were saying: ‘Hey, we’re here, we’re in your community. Maybe you should set a day aside to shop with us,’” said Joe Chevalier, owner of Yellow Dog Bookshop on Ninth Street downtown.
Chevalier notes that it has become one of the three biggest days of the year for the store, along with the store’s birthday and the Saturday of the True/False Film Festival.
“It has grown considerably over the last two years,” he said. “It used to be just a good Saturday, and then two years ago it was one of the better Saturdays of the year. Last year, it was our second-biggest day of the entire year.”
According to a 2018 report issued by the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, small businesses make up 99.9% of companies in the United States. The agency’s definition of a small business varies from field to field but is typically based on how many employees work for a firm. The upper limit can range from 250 to 1,500 employees, though firms with fewer than 100 employees make up the majority.
Despite the overwhelming numbers, small businesses as defined by the Small Business Administration only account for 47.5% of employees in the country.
For local Columbia businesses, everything helps as box stores such as Walmart and online retailers such as Amazon continue to dominate the holiday shopping market.
And business owners have taken notice of the support they’ve received.
“The local shoppers, really, they try to support small businesses,” said Shelly Cassiday-Riesenmy, owner of Speckled Frog Toys & Books in Alley A downtown.
“I’ve noticed on Small Business Saturday they’ll all come out,” Cassiday-Riesenmy said, “and usually during the holidays I get a lot of local shoppers who want to support small business.”