Last Friday was Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that yields banner retail sales in the walk-up to Christmas. The tidal wave of shopping on that day is often considered a big-box store phenomenon. That's where you can get trampled, or injured by flying elbows or speeding carts as frantic buyers lay waste to shelves and gobble up favored merchandise like a cloud of locusts.
But did you know that the next day was Small Business Saturday? Maybe not. It's not as well known, but locally owned businesses saw a significant positive impact on their bottom lines. As a percentage of overall revenue, some of the local small businesses saw spikes exceeding Walmart or Target.
For example, owners of Dave's Bernina, a sewing machine retailer on Provo's Center Street, were delighted with their performance over the two days. The company logged a record in sales over the weekend after seeing robust growth over the past seven years.
Other locally owned companies saw significant boosts as well, including Ream's Boots & Jeans in Spanish Fork and Allen's Camera on University Avenue in Provo.
Locally owned small businesses offer significant advantages over big box stores. They often have a more diverse selection of goods, and almost universally have more expertise in their field. As a rule, they are going to be more knowledgeable about a product line.
But despite those advantages, some small businesses can be hurt by other factors. For instance, in downtown Provo, major construction is putting a damper of consumer traffic. Parking is gobbled up by construction workers on the new Nu Skin building and LDS temple. While this is just one small part of Utah County, it points to the need for local governments to be sensitive to situations that impede commerce and to take action to help preserve and promote economic activity during the holiday season.
According to nonprofit advocacy organization Local First Utah, if every household in Utah County shifted just 10 percent of its holiday spending to local businesses this year, an additional $3.97 million would be pumped back into the local economy. That's a significant booster -- better than caffeine in the long run.
Every dollar counts this year.