Shopping small has been something many Saratoga Springs residents have embraced for years. We are lucky to have an amazing downtown where we are able to do so. But there are still so many people who do not realize all that downtown has to offer.
This Saturday is Small Business Saturday; a national campaign started by American Express in 2010 to get people to think about shopping locally during the holidays. We wish that more people had this mind set year round. Lucky for us, as with many in Saratoga Springs, our Christmas comes twice a year, once in December like other places, and once in August when the horses come to town. So there are always people looking to bring home a little something from their trip to lovely downtown Saratoga Springs. But sometimes small businesses get over looked during the holiday season and we cannot compete with the big stores and their sales. But there are so many great places worth shopping at all over Saratoga Springs that are unique to our area.
When you get a chance stroll up and down Broadway and the side streets of downtown look at all of the options that there are for your shopping needs, both during the holiday season and for the other 10 months of the year. There are places to get clothing, toys, books, gifts, and more. It is worth spending a little more, though in many cases the prices are comparable, to have the experience of shopping downtown and the good feeling of helping out a local business. Many of the businesses downtown are retail or restaurant. This graphic was really interesting to look at and think about how many businesses are small and locally owned… a lot more than you would expect.
I found this great infographic when I was looking for Small Business
Saturday logos. The headline says “more than 50% of the money you spend stays in the community” that is compared to the 14% that stays when you buy in a chain and the potential 1% of an online store (and that only stays if the delivery person lives locally).
Head over to the East or West Side Rec Park during little league baseball season. You won’t see kids with jerseys on that say “Target” or “Walmart” or “McDonalds”… you will see shirts that say “Stewarts”, “Allerdice”, “Cudneys”, or “Ben & Jerrys”. That’s because the owners of local businesses are your friends, neighbors, or even family members. These are the people who are willing to give something back to the community who supports them. I don’t know a business person downtown who doesn’t support the community in many small ways. Every day businesses downtown are asked to donate to some cause, and though we cannot possibly donate to every one we are approached by we do our best to support as many as we can.
Even our spectacular events that are put on in downtown are due to the hard work and support of local businesses. Hats off, Final Stretch, Chowderfest, Fall Festival, and the Victorian Streetwalk are all paid for through sponsorships given by local businesses. And all are offered free of charge to the public as a “Thank you for choosing to spend your time with us in Saratoga Springs”. Some of these events are known all over America and help to bring people to the area.
Probably if you ask anyone one of the reasons they prefer to shop in a small, locally owned store you will get one of the following answers:
“I am able to find unique, local items, or see things I would not have found online”
“The interaction with the staff is much more enjoyable than at a big store”
“They know what they are selling”
“It is overall a better experience”
And all of it is true. Small businesses cannot thrive without providing the customer with the best experience possible. We have to make sure our staff knows what we are selling. We spend months selecting items that we think our customers would like. We travel all over to trade shows and exhibits looking for the best products we can find. We work on designs and packaging. We want each customer to have the best experience they can. Every person that walks through the door is an opportunity for us to make an impression. And it is our livelihood. We need our customers and we appreciate every time a person walks through the door!
So when you head out this holiday to shop, or any other time of the year, think of where you may be able to find the products locally and support your friends and neighbors. Thank you for shopping small!