By Amye Anderson
UCBJ Managing Editor
UPPER CUMBERLAND – As big-name retailers prepare for the year’s biggest shopping weekend – Thanksgiving evening, for those die-hard bargain hunters, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday – many small businesses are hoping to catch some of the spending action on Small Business Saturday.
Founded in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday, held each year on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, is an annual shopping tradition dedicated to supporting small businesses and celebrating communities across the country.
Out of $100 spent at a local business, about $68 of it stays in the local economy. If that same amount is spent at a large business, only $43 stays local.
“It’s very important that all tax dollars remain in our area so that we can continue to grow and make smart decisions with these revenues,” said Laura Wolf, Cityscape executive director. “Cookeville is so blessed with a vibrant and active downtown community. With 99 percent of our downtown spaces occupied, there are incredible shopping opportunities within Putnam County. Supporting our local merchants keeps these shops open and creates job opportunities for our family, friends, and fellow Cookevillians.”
Supporting local businesses provides employment and income. According to American Express, there are more than 580,000 small businesses in the state of Tennessee – about 99.5 percent of the businesses in the state. Nearly 43 percent of workers in the state were employed by small businesses in 2014.
But, those locally-kept dollars also manage to find their way back into the community through further local spending and contributions to community groups and organizations.
“Local businesses support your local schools, your police departments, rescue squads and fire departments,” said Misty Stephens, Tourism & Membership Director of the Fentress County Chamber. “The bulk of the money spent in your community stays in your community and the tax revenue gained goes toward helping local schools and paving roads.”
In 2016, small business owners nationwide generated an estimated $15.4 billion on Small Business Saturday.
With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday only days away, it’s hard to predict just how much shoppers will spend over the course of the biggest shopping weekend this year.
In October, the National Retail Federation predicted shoppers, particularly those in the 18-24 age range, will dig a little deeper into their pockets this season. Holiday retail sales in November and December are expected to increase nearly 4 percent over 2016’s figures; raking in an estimated $678.75 billion to $682 billion compared to $655.8 billion last year.
The NRF predicts 164 million shoppers will shop between now and Monday. Unsurprisingly, Black Friday will likely continue to hold the title of busiest shopping day; followed closely by Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday.
“It means more than just shopping at small businesses,” said Rita Reagan-Underhill, Overton County Chamber of Commerce‘s director of marketing and tourism. “It’s about supporting our small local businesses and celebrating our community. By supporting our small businesses, you are helping increase the county’s revenue which benefits everyone. When you shop local, you get better service, personalized care, diverse product inventory, and a sense of giving back to your town.
“In turn, those small businesses help support our local ball teams, school groups, civic projects, and so much more,” she added. “You never go wrong by shopping local.”
Visit ucshopsmall.helpmysmallbusiness.org to see a list of Upper Cumberland businesses participating in Small Business Saturday.