"When you buy from a small business, you are not helping a CEO buy a third vacation home,” a popular Facebook meme reads. “You are helping a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy his team jersey, a mom put food on the table, a dad pay a mortgage or a student pay for college.”
No other day of the year is that more evident and on the minds of consumers than Small Business Saturday, the tradition started in 2010 and gaining more popularity each year.
“When it comes to our area, shopping locally owned and independently operated businesses has more benefits than you can count,” Alton Main Street Executive Director Sara McGibany said. “It keeps sales tax local, and local business is also more apt to sponsor events for charities, sports teams, things like that.
“Small businesses in the area keep our community successful.”
Tucked in between “big box” store supporters Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving has become vital to local businesses who hope the event will remind consumers just where their money goes as they shop throughout the rest of the year.
According to Forbes Magazine, more than 95 million shoppers visited local establishments on that day, spending more than $16.2 billion nationwide; an increase of 14 percent from last year.
The annual Green Gift Bazaar was held that Saturday, as well. A partnership between the Sierra Club (who originally created the event) and Alton Main Street makes the event possible, promoting both support of downtown businesses and shopping “green” (eco-friendly).
The event attended by hundreds of shoppers featured 25 eco-artisans and green vendors at the Alton YWCA. The free event offers environmentally friendly gift ideas such as art made from recycled or up-cycled components, handmade jewelry, books, “made in the USA” and fair trade items, “green” household products and more. Burned-out Christmas lights and household batteries were recycled, a service provided by the Sierra Club.
“It went spectacularly,” McGibany said. “The YWCA was so accommodating, and we expanded from the gymnasium this year to the front lobby, as well. Another reason for this event is to get people inside these beautiful historic buildings and see what this area can offer.”
Also on Small Business Saturday, State Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton, visited the 1904 General Store, located in the historic World’s Fair building at 322 E. Broadway in Alton, encouraging residents to shop at local businesses.
“Supporting small businesses in our area means providing support to our friends, neighbors and community,” Beiser said. “I encourage area residents to shop locally whenever possible to make sure employers can keep people working, keep their doors open and contribute to our tax base.”
“Small Business Saturday” is a registered trademark of the American Express corporation. Locally, River Bend Yoga, My Just Desserts, Mississippi Mud Pottery, Hazel2Blue and JMC Design partnered with American Express to promote the event.