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Supporting small businesses deserves to be part of your everyday routine. Why?

 

Small business is BIG!

 

Did you know that of nearly 29 million businesses operating in the US (as of March 2016), 99.7% of those are small businesses? And that most are “self-employed,” many of which make up your local coffee shops, favorite local boutiques, go-to mom-and-pop deli, or local pet shop?

 

Small Business Saturday® was founded in 2010 by American Express as a day to support our local businesses nationally on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Subsequently the Shop Small movement, a concept more about supporting your local community every day all year, was introduced.

 


Ray's Diner in downtown Excelsior Springs, MO


Change Your Views on Prices


According to the American Independent Business Alliance, 48 percent of the money spent on purchases at local independent businesses is re-circulated locally. Less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores stays within the community.

 

 
Work by a local artist in Moberly, MO


Why then do so many Americans overlook their local merchant and flock to chain stores without considering the smaller options? Misconceptions play a large role in shopping decisions, the most common being that prices will automatically be higher in small businesses.

 

Truth is, vendors control pricing of most products and provide a Manufactured Suggested Retail Price that tell both big box stores and small businesses the price the product should be sold at.

 

Choose Quality Over Quantity


A big box store is – well, bigger – so that means they have more variety to offer you, right? Wrong. It just means the assortment of inventory is deeper, not more diverse. Small, independent businesses stock a broader range of unique choices based on the interests of the owner and their local customers.

 

When you walk into a local business, the inventory options often surprise you. This is to your advantage and is among the many reasons to frequent your local stores more often.

 

 
Dickens Christmas 2015 in downtown Warrensburg, MO


Can’t find what you’re looking for? Small store owners can likely get in touch with a vendor and order an item for you right away.

 

Receive a Unique, Personalized Experience


Most small store owners are eager to go above and beyond to deliver stronger customer service. Having a more hands-on role within the company, they build a stronger sense of care for the job they do with more personalized and noteworthy customer care.

 

 
Holiday Open House 2016 in downtown Blue Springs, MO


While every business is different, what makes customer care among small businesses more valuable is just that – it’s different. Do you want one-size-fits-all service, or would you prefer a unique experience?

 

Invest in Your Community


When you shop local, you invest in your community. You support families and individual artists and crafters. In turn, local business owners are more likely to recycle a larger share of their revenue back to the local economy. They are also more likely to support local causes in your community.

 

Small businesses inspire local character and prosperity by strengthening partnerships among residents, other small business owners, community leaders and schools. They deliver economic advantages like creating more jobs locally and guaranteeing a broader range of products. They help to sustain vibrant, walkable town centers and reduce sprawl, automobile use, and pollution to the town they are positioned in.

 

 
Tout Your Tote Campaign in Historic Downtown Liberty, MO


What happens when YOU shop local? Shopping local on Small Business Saturday®, on any Saturday, or on any other day in between builds strong communities and develops economic and social relationships. You benefit. Your community benefits.

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What does community development mean to you?  In the Main Street world, community development is economic development with a historic preservation emphasis.  This translates into developing customers, places, resources and businesses – a comprehensive focus.  Over 2,000 communities across the country utilizing Main Street and its principles can’t be wrong.  So if your community hasn’t already invested in Main Street, how do you get started?

There are many ways to get started but the easiest is to utilize Missouri Main Street’s Affiliate Grant Program.  This program is a two-year, hands-on platform to assist with establishing or jump-starting a Main Street program in the community.  It can either help with building the organization from scratch including by-laws and 501(c)3 filing or help an already created organization implement the Main Street Four-Point Approach® to revitalization.  In both scenarios, the Affiliate Grant Program assists with gathering feedback and buy-in from the community, provides direction in creating priorities, and trains the organization and community on the Main Street principles.  The hands-on approach and two years of consultation in the community reduces the learning curve so the revitalization process can take hold much quicker than without the Affiliate Grant Program. 

In the last three years, over 16 communities have completed or are currently in the program.  Blue Springs graduated from the program in 2013, hired their first executive director in 2014, and attained the Associate Tier level by 2015.  Board member and newly hired executive director, Cindy Miller, has shared that “the formula provided by Missouri Main Street provides the structure that enables a group of people to work together.  Structure is the key to the success of any project and the Affiliate Grant Program provides just that.”

Since 2008, the Affiliate communities have experienced over $28 million in redevelopment and rehabilitation in both the private and public sectors.  The Main Street program provides that structure and comprehensive approach to redevelopment which sets the stage for investors and entrepreneurship.  With development comes job creation, new businesses/expansion and increased property values, all items that contribute to the overall stability of the community. 

So as you look at your community, is it an asset or liability?  Look at your community from the perspective of a visitor, tourist, potential business owner or developer, new teacher, prospective manufacturer, or someone looking to relocate to your community.  Do they see empty storefronts or bustling sidewalks?  Crumbling buildings or rehabilitated structures?  Dirty windows and unkempt sidewalks or neat landscaping and benches for shoppers? 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it’s the only thing that ever has” is a quote by Margaret Mead that we use to demonstrate the power of the local community.  Someday is here…what are you waiting for?

The next Affiliate Grant Workshop is March 9, 2016, in Jefferson City.  To participate in the program, someone from the community must attend the workshop.  This workshop is free to attend but an RSVP is required.  Find more information here

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