Each of us can make a difference.
Shopping small matters in a big way!
Let’s face it … COVID-19 has had an impact on most small businesses in the Pine Belt. Relief programs have provided help for some, but customer loyalty and support has played a large part in keeping them going strong. While it’s not unusual for businesses to come and go in normal times, the pandemic has made it significantly more difficult for some to survive. There was a frightening statistic in the news recently that said 29% of small businesses in the United States have shuttered since March. But we, as consumers, have a great deal of power and can help our beloved businesses still remaining successfully emerge from this crisis.
Imagine Hattiesburg, Petal, Oak Grove, Sumrall, Purvis, or Lumberton without many of their small businesses: coffee shops, hair salons, boutiques and restaurants. Your personal trainer, dog groomer or dance instructor would no longer be just around the corner. And you’d likely be heading to a neighboring community for an appointment with your foot doctor, accountant or insurance agent. Impromptu chats with neighbors you run into when you’re out and about, along with the friendly relationships you’ve established with local shop owners, would be a thing of the past. Community organizations would lose the support of small business owners who donate goods or volunteer their time.
Although a key factor, we don’t need to talk about how much of your money stays in town when you shop locally. You hear those “stats” on a regular basis. What we need to talk about is the fact that small businesses are an integral part of the success of our community. Consider this: Pine Belt businesses create our community’s distinct personality, making our area a unique destination. Small business owners tend to buy local, putting more of their profits back into the community. Small businesses typically pay more than minimum wage while providing local jobs. Small business owners care about their customers and the products they’re selling to them. Small businesses encourage entrepreneurship.
Small business is a big deal, both locally and nationally. The Small Business Administration census shows there are upwards of 30 million small businesses in the nation, and those small businesses employ nearly half of U.S. employees. So, when you buy from small businesses, you’re also supporting jobs in the Pine Belt and in small towns all across America.
It’s about much more than shopping small last Saturday, nationally known as Small Business Saturday. Small businesses need our ongoing support. Shifting even just a percentage of your purchases to a small business would make a world of difference – but we need to do more. Granted, it’s not feasible to buy everything from a small business, but we must make it our mission to shop small and shop locally as much as possible.
So, be a game changer. Shop small. Shop local. Follow your favorite businesses on social media. Like. Comment. Share.
Spread the word.
Christina Pierce is the publisher of The Pine Belt News.