You may say that I am just another outdated old man complaining about progress and the changes of time. But, you see, I have well considered that possibility myself, and am prepared to submit to correction by anybody who cares about a community, who can show me how the world is improved by that community’s dying.
– Wendell Berry, conservationist, farmer, essayist, novelist, professor of English, and poet, from Jayber Crow
This past Saturday was Small Business Saturday, which was started by American Express in 2010 to help give local retailers a boost during the recession. Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is a reminder that small businesses are the backbone of our economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the country’s 28 million small businesses – defined as having fewer than 500 employees – create two out of every three net new private sector jobs. Half of working Americans – some 120 million individuals – either own or work for a small business.
More than 22 million of small businesses are self-employed with no additional payroll or employees. These businesses are called “nonemployers.” Approximately 75 percent of all U.S. businesses are nonemployer businesses, with 19.4 million nonemployer businesses operating as sole proprietorships. Seven out of 10 new employer firms last at least two years, with half lasting at least five years, a third lasting at least 10 years, and 25 stay in business 15 years or more.
Interesting stats. At last year’s Small Business Saturday, nearly 70 million people shopped small in their local communities, comprising an estimated $5.5 billion in sales to independently owned small businesses. It will be interesting to see how this year fairs in terms of warm bodies entering local businesses and spending money. As we all know, buying local is good for the community. According to the American Independent Business Alliance, shopping at independent retailers creates a “multiplier effect” – independent retailers “return more than three times as much money per dollar of sales [to the community] than chain competitors.”
While I dedicated much of my Saturday to decking the halls, I took a couple of breaks to “shop small.” As many of you know, I have profiled a number of local women entrepreneurs for my blog. While I couldn’t go to all of their shops on Small Business Saturday, I happily supported two of my favorite local shops – which thankfully are some seven blocks away – lucky me. Jenny K (6921 Stockton Avenue, El Cerrito, CA 94530, 510.528.5250) and Adorn & Flourish (7027 Stockton Avenue, El Cerrito, CA 94530, 510.367.8548) are on the same street, a block apart.
Small Business Saturday has come and gone this year, but it doesn’t mean you can’t shop and get through your holiday shopping list. There are so many local businesses offering unique gifts from local artisans. Support them this holiday season and the rest of the year. These wonderful shops are what make El Cerrito a great community.