Smack in between “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” “Small Business Saturday,” on Nov. 26, promotes the locavore’s alternative to America’s holiday shopping spree. American Express created the national event in hopes of shifting consumer spending toward small businesses—you know, the ones President Obama called “the backbone of our nation’s economy” in 2008. There’s plenty of reason for Obama to have made this claim, and thus reason to support small local businesses.According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which was created as part of the Small Business Act in 1953 to “aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small businesses,” small businesses (officially classified as firms with less than 500 employees) have generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years, employ half of all private sector employees and account for 50 percent of the country’s gross national product, excluding that which comes from farming.
Still, despite their economic importance, small businesses don’t have it easy. The economic crisis is hitting small business owners hard: the fraction of total national retail revenue contributed by locally owned businesses fell from 59 percent in 1990 to 48 percent in 2009.
While it’s not nearly as well known as the other American shopping events, Small Business Saturday is in its second year running, and American Express’s heavy promotion of this year’s event will help make it a success. They have mobilized supporters using social media such as Facebook and Twitter (Facebook is one of the event’s few corporate sponsors). American Express offers media packages for small businesses that want to more actively take part in the event.
Santa Cruz certainly has plenty of compelling shops that should make it easy for locals who want to participate. It’s a chance to get around the neighborhood, buy holiday gifts and maybe even help turn the economy around.
Originally published in the Santa Cruz Weekly: