Thousands of people across Iowa are starting their holiday shopping today, and many communities are hoping you’ll give locally-owned small businesses some attention tomorrow. The annual “Small Business Saturday” campaign urges people to spend some of their shopping dollars in independent stores. Jennifer Pruden of the Czech Village-New Bohemia Main Street District in Cedar Rapids says local businesses there are hoping a good holiday season will help them recover from September’s flood.
“And so there was a loss of business for about a month before they were able to get back in and get things settled again,” she says. “A lot of businesses experienced about 20-thousand dollars in loss.”
Many communities participating in Small Business Saturday will have extended store hours and special discounts tomorrow.
In the small town of Stuart, about 40 miles west of Des Moines, about 25 shops and other businesses are participating. Lynsi Pasutti with the local Chamber of Commerce also owns a local pottery studio. She says events like Small Business Saturday emphasize the importance of supporting local communities and the people who own independent businesses.
“They might also go to your church,” she says. “They might also donate to an event that you are supporting as well. It’s all connected and it’s a great opportunity to showcase that with this one big event. Hopefully it sticks with people and they remember it, and think about shopping locally all year round.”
Pasutti says this is a good time to remind people that supporting local businesses goes beyond buying gifts. She’d like people to think locally for a variety of things.
“Are you using the local service guys to fix your cars? That’s another option. We’ve got a theater in town here, we’ve got a fitness center, even just our restaurants,” she says.
In Cedar Rapids, Pruden says her organization includes about 150 independent businesses. She says many offer a different experience than a shopper might get at a larger store.
“I mean there’s nothing like walking into a small business store where the owner is right there and can greet you and tell you all about their product, that customer service you just don’t get in other big box stores.”