Apparently, our idea last week was not all that bad. A national survey taken just after the sixth annual Small Business Saturday last weekend showed more shopping at local, independent businesses than ever before.
Last week, I talked in this space about how important that is, particularly in Alpine where some of us have been seeking ways to improve the business climate downtown.
The Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey showed more than 95 million consumers across the country shopped at stores near home, an 8 percent increase from the year before.
“We had a really good weekend overall, even considering the weather,” said Bob Ward at Morrison True Value. “Saturday was slightly better than a year ago.”
Saturday was cold and rainy, and Ward said that might have contributed to the fact it wasn’t much stronger.
“Had we had a sunshiny day, we might have had better business,” he said.
Shopko Alpine Manager Denise Armendariz said Saturday was a great day. Shopko spokesman Michelle Hanson of Green Bay, Wisconsin, said the Alpine store had a “steady crowd and traffic was good.”
“We did great,” Bealls Manager Patty Castillo said. But the biggest days were Thursday and Friday, Thanksgiving and Black Friday, racking up $30,000 in sales on Thursday alone.
Saturday “wasn’t that great,” she said.
The 95 million consumers nationwide Saturday marked an 8 percent increase from 2014, said a joint press release by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express.
“More than 4,100 Neighborhood Champions around the country rallied local businesses and created events in their communities for Small Business Saturday — an increase of 48 percent over last year,” the release said. “And more than 425 organizations joined the Small Business Saturday Coalition – an increase of 11 percent over last year.”
The survey said total spending among U.S. consumers who were aware of Small Business Saturday reached $16.2 billion at independent retailers and restaurants that day, an increase of 14 percent from $14.3 billion in 2014.
Among those who shopped on Small Business Saturday, 31 percent attended a community event that day and 81 percent encouraged family and friends to support their local small businesses, the survey said.
“It’s very encouraging to see small businesses participate every year and more shoppers giving local entrepreneurs a chance to compete for their business,” National Federation of Independent Business President and CEO Dan Danner said. “Americans are returning to Main Street for the things they need and ultimately that’s a very healthy economic trend.”
As reported here last week, it is even more critical to Alpine, which has been struggling of late to keep downtown businesses active with competition from more shopping options at the other end of a three- or four-hour car trip and from the Internet.
And my vexation with Internet shopping continued last week. Frustrated with all the ice last winter, I had gotten a windshield snow screen but traded cars last week. I tried to order one that would fit my new car and what came was a piece of cloth thinner than a lady’s sheer blouse.
If I had seen that in the store, there was no way I would have bought it. But looking at a picture on line, you have no way of telling what the material is like.
Shop locally, boys and girls. Not only are you sure to get the right product if you look at it and touch it and decide if it will fit your needs, but you can take it home with you right now.
And you just might help keep a local entrepreneur in business.
Jim Street covers Alpine and Brewster County for the Avalanche. He can be reached at 432-837-3334, firstname.lastname@example.org or 118 N. 5th St.