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The Shipwire Blog/Small Business Saturday – Where will you shop?

Small Business Saturday - Where will you shop?

About 10 years ago I tried to start a revolution. Not in the Che Guevara sense; but, a retail revolution. I called it Conscious Cash and my idea was simple. Get consumers to buy from local small businesses by having local small businesses offer local buyers a small discount if they presented a Conscious Cash card. If you haven’t heard about it, it wasn’t for lack of trying; but, it never really got traction. I think I would have been easier to get the word out in the viral world of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube; alas, none of that was around 10 years ago.

Fast forward 10 years and AmEx Open is getting some traction with Small Business Saturday (home page). Shipwire would like to lend our support for this important movement because we believe in small businesses and we want to see main street thrive this holiday season.

The idea is simple, get away from the hordes of mall shoppers after Thanksgiving, shun the big box “super-centers” and spend your shopping effort and money at small businesses in your local area.

The numbers behind the cause are impressive. According to research firm Civic Economics, for every $100 spent at a local store, $68 stays in your community. Compare that to $43 when you shop at a chain store. The idea of keeping money in the local economy is huge. Dollars that stay local can be re-used inside the local economy. That local merchant may take the money they make and not just pay local employees; but, profit is much more likely to stay in the local community.

Where I’ll be this Saturday. This Saturday I’ll be up in Northern California in Ukiah, Ca. A very small community where I was raised and my parents still live. There is a local book shop there called the “Mendocino Book Company” that has been an anchor of community support for years. I’m planning on spending some time there and picking up a few things. I’ll even give them a back-link to help them with their search rankings. Ukiah Northern California Book Store. I’ve also got to get some new tires for my car, and I’ll be taking the car to the local Ukiah dealership, which incidentally is where I bought the car, even though I could have gotten a better deal from a huge distributor in the central valley. I’m partial to the Ukiah dealerships because they supported my High School swim team when I was there many moons ago. I think that is is the whole point, you may pay a couple dollars extra; but, you keep the money in your local community which benefits everybody.

Comment with your favorite small local business. Post in the comments your favorite small local business and give them a link. I’m sure they would appreciate it. Tell us why this local business is important to your local economy. Are you going to go to a nice dinner? Buy a few toys? Get a new shirt? Get your car tuned? Whatever you do, do it local!

Main street could use the boost. It’s no joke that main street USA has taken a beating over the past few years. There has been a lot of economic stimulus pointed at the financial industry. Credit, the life blood of any growing business, has been tight for main street. Just recently, BusinessWeek posted numbers showing that lending to small business has still been a trickle and banks are looking for multi-year growth and profits before they will extend credit. The net is that a lot of the loose fiscal policy being applied to banks isn’t trickling down to main street businesses. Sad, considering main street recovery must happen before an overall recovery can start.

Shop offline and online. Shipwire is all about helping local merchants grow their global e-commerce sales. When we started the business our goal was to provide growing merchants with the shipping muscle of the largest enterprise. To date we have thousands of sellers using our global warehouse network and order management software. So, as you shop main street this Saturday consider whether or not you want to expand your efforts to the online stores of these small and growing businesses. We hope you will.

Why just Saturday? I hope that this one day event will spur on a local buying effort beyond Saturday. The economic numbers don’t lie, it’s a smart move to buy local and support your neighbors and community infrastructure.

AmEx Open is running a Facebook page to drive interest in the event and has a grab bag of sponsorship behind it. The first 10K small businesses that signed up got $100 in free Facebook advertising. The bigger thing is that Amex is donating up to $1M ($1 per fan page like up to $500K and it looks like they extended that to a cool Million) to a girl’s entrepreneurship effort called “Gift for Girls”. That has certainly helped push this effort viral.

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