Community perspective

#ShopSmall this holiday season

As online shopping has steadily grown during the past decade, brick and mortar retail businesses have been looking at new ways to address this shift in consumer behavior.

In an attempt to convert some of those “clicks” back to “bricks,” experiential shopping has become the latest trend and marketing technique for traditional retailers. Experiential shopping can take many shapes — a focus on consumer engagement over sales, creating an experience to share with others, or offering other services beyond the products sold, to name a few.

But for most small, mom-and-pop businesses, this is simply business as usual, and has been for generations. Small businesses are the original experiential shopping experience. There are no new marketing techniques at play – just an authentic, local and personal shopping experience.

That is why the #ShopSmall movement is so important. It reminds us of the importance of spending our dollars in the establishments that power our economy, benefit our communities, and enrich our lives.

Small Business Saturday will celebrate its 10th anniversary Nov. 30. The movement is set to build on a decade of success and rally even more communities to come together in support of small businesses.

Last year, a record estimated $17.8 billion was spent on Small Business Saturday at independent retailers and restaurants, momentum I urge you to continue by shopping small this holiday season.

Supporting Small Business Saturday doesn’t have to be a choice between “clicks” or “bricks” either. More and more small businesses are bringing their local and personal touch to the convenience of online shopping. In fact, 41% of consumers who reported participating in Small Business Saturday last year did so by shopping small online.

There are more than 73,000 small businesses in Alaska; and, more than half of the Alaska workforce either is employed by a small business or owns a small business. Plus, two out of three net new jobs are created by small businesses.

Spending your dollars with a small business this holiday season not only grows the economy but also typically comes with a great story to share: the artist who handcrafted a piece of jewelry, the father and son who decided to take their barbecue rub recipes to market, the corporate professional who got burned out and decided to pursue a passion for pet care … they are the people who naturally create experiential shopping for consumers simply by being themselves.

This year, the SBA Alaska District will participate in Small Business Saturday by doing a downtown business tour with the mayor in Anchorage, connecting businesses with holiday marketing resources, and getting the word out to #ShopSmall. I invite you to join us in participating in Small Business Saturday and create a memorable experiential shopping experience for you and your loved ones this year.

Jeremy Field is the regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration Pacific Northwest Region, which serves Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska.

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