By GREGG THOMPSON
The National Federation of Independent Business is America’s leading small-business advocate. We are proud to represent 350,000 small, independent business owners nationwide, including over 7,000 in North Carolina. We are also very proud to co-sponsor the 2016 Small Business Saturday promotion with American Express.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for most of the jobs in this country. They have provided 66 percent of all net new jobs since the 1970s. They represent 99.7 percent of all U.S. employers.
Most Americans don’t know an owner of a big department store, but there’s a good chance that many people know small-business owners. They’re our friends and neighbors. They’re among the most generous supporters of civic groups, local charities, youth sports, schools and virtually every other form of community activity.
Nov. 26, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, is Small Business Saturday. It’s intended to encourage Americans to support small business not just for one day a year, but whenever they go shopping.
Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, is when families wake early, sit in traffic, compete with other drivers for mall parking spots, jostle with crowds and stand in line to buy things they could find much closer to home.
Small Business Saturday offers a much different experience. Shoppers who visit locally owned businesses will find almost everything they could get at the mall and plenty of items by local artisans, designers, bakers, chocolatiers, brewers, and tinkerers that can be found only on Main Street. In terms of service, Americans who “shop small” likely will be dealing directly with owners who know that happy customers usually come back.
The campaign to “shop small” on the Saturday after Thanksgiving started in 2010. It has grown every year. Last year, more than 95 million Americans visited local businesses on Small Business Saturday, and they spent more than $16 billion.
We hope that even more Americans participate this year. Small Business Saturday is a great way to start the holidays, support local communities and boost the national economy.
Gregg Thompson is North Carolina state director of the National Federation of Independent Business. He lives in Raleigh.