Small Business Saturday

We hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! As we rise from our dreams of turkey legs, stuffing, and cranberries, our thoughts turn toward Small Business Saturday. 

Tomorrow we'll participate in our fourth Small Business Saturday as a local business. It's an exciting time of year for us- we've just gathered with family for Thanksgiving and feel the holidays coming through in full swing. Holiday music fills the shop, window displays are given an extra bit of attention, and Christmas lights add a touch of magic to the shop. 

We also get to see several of our customers who we haven't seen since the regular paddling season ended. Since we run a highly seasonal business, the fall and winter leave us missing the customers and friends who are a regular part of lives during the summer (of course, we're changing that with winter paddling! ). Each time one of them walks through the door on Small Business Saturday, it feels like a mini reunion.

If you haven't heard of Small Business Saturday before, it's a shopping holiday created by American Express in 2010 as a way to encourage shoppers to support smaller brick and mortar stores during the busy shopping season. It's an important day for many small businesses, and with the immense marketing power of American Express, it's turned a grass-roots campaign into a nationwide celebration of local shops.  

We hear about how it's important to shop small and local, but we don't often hear about why it's important. Shopping small helps money stay in the community, rather than being funneled off to corporate headquarters far removed from you community. Small businesses also typically have a lower environmental impact than large businesses. 

But it was an experience I had the other day that really struck home the difference between big business and small. I was in the parking lot behind our shop, taking apart old pallets to be used in displays in our shop. After I loosened one particularly challenging plank, I stood up to stretch and looked over to the pub across the street. Out back, one of the owners was sanding paint on the back door. No contractors, just him, an extension cord, and a power sander. Walking inside, I checked in on Ashley, who was hand carving a styrofoam ball to make the best looking Olaf figure you've ever seen (seriously, come check out our store windows, she did an amazing job!). And it occurred to me then the difference between small shops and big stores. All across our country, everyday, owners of small businesses are hard at work, putting in their time, energy, and often sweat keeping their businesses running. If something needs to be dusted, fixed, or displayed, it's likely the business owner that does it. You know when you walk into a small businesses that everything in there has been specifically chosen because of the owner's passion for their business, the products they sell, and the services they offer. 

For us, this passion translates into, we hope, a better experience for everybody that comes through the door. Because just as each product we put in our store matters, each customer that walks through the door matters. Over time, we establish connections with people, and often find that we connect our customers to each other, whether on the water or in the shop. In this way, small businesses work as the threads that weave the community together. They create a space where people can gather, sharing interests, conversation, and laughter, and a sense of love for the community which forms the cornerstone of small towns and cities everywhere. Without small businesses, and the people that run them and support them, cities and towns would be filled with people going about their day, rarely stopping for a quick hello, or friendly greeting. 

We hope that you'll consider shopping small throughout the holiday season, and look forward to seeing you tomorrow! 

Aaron MearnsComment