Given that I'm one of the least-shopping inclined people around, the irony of 3CM posting a diary about Small Business Saturday (SBS) is not lost on self. The whole idea of SBS is a counter-reaction to Black Friday, of course, as noted by Widener University professor Ross Steinman in this USA Today article by Oliver St. John:
"There's so much negative attention in recent years on Black Friday and the rampant consumerism that's associated with it. Small Business Saturday is a response to that."So what did 3CM do today regarding SBS? Well.....
Actually, very little, today, though a tad more yesterday. Yesterday I did hit up a few record shops, as I usually do, where it was quite nice to see the first store I went to with decent traffic. 2nd one was early evening, just before the Symphony concert, so not so much business traffic there around dinner time. Today, I went to this self-described 'upscale resale clothing' place to see if they had anything I might like, as I've gotten some nice pairs of pants there in the past. Some things looked of interest, but then I saw that one pair of pants had one leg sleeve with a frayed edge. So I thought better of it and walked out, purchasing nothing, except for going to the grocery store afterwards. Teh kittehs did better on the latter than me, though they don't know it yet, but 3CM digresses, as usual.
Culling a few SBS-related articles, quoting from that USA Today article, there's this stat:
"Small Business Saturday is the most important shopping day of the season for 36% of independent retailers, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Only 24% say that day is Black Friday."One would think, if one were rational, that small businesses would be the place to go on Black Friday, precisely to avoid the mass crowds at the big box stores and the mall. However, that would require 'Amurrikans' to be smart about such things. In one sense, Americans are rational, in terms of looking for the best price, which, unfortunately for too many, means the evil empire of Bentonville, AR, as noted yesterday on Marketplace in this feature:
"[Wal-Mart employee William Fletcher] he doesn't blame people who are shopping here today. He shops at Wal-Mart too.One irony about SBS is that it's backed by big corporate $, as Rick Barrett of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel noted here:
'We're paid so little,' he says, 'in order to get by, if we're going to have any food that will last us a paycheck, we kind of have to shop here.'
That's the dilemma for Jesus Ponce, who works at a fast food restaurant, and makes minimum wage. He was wheeling out a flat screen TV he'd just bought on special. He watched the protests for a while. 'I support them,' he said. 'But I struggle too.'
Tony Yepez, a landscaper who was buying Christmas present for his daughter, said even though he shops at Wal-Mart, he doesn't like what he's read about how the company treats its employees.
'It's bad,' he said. 'But whatever's cheaper.'"
"In its third year, the campaign is backed by American Express, FedEx, Google, Twitter, Facebook and dozens of others."You may also note a common theme among these stories (emphasis mine):
USA Today header: "Small retailers may not be able to compete with the big guys on Black Friday, but they're hoping shoppers will respond to deals and to the call to support small, local stores."Of course, whatever muscle is behind SBS, and the reality is that deep pockets are necessary to try to market the cause and get people to take it up, there is good reason for it, as noted in the same article:
Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal byline: "Retailers hope Small Business Saturday takes off"
"For every $100 spent at a local business, about $68 remains in the community, according to American Express."In keeping with that, in a different article in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, reporter Tony Adams quoted a Columbus, GA retailer, Rick McKnight:
"My little slogan is if we don't 'buy' local, it's 'bye-bye' local".As far as which small business are expected to get the most traffic, Barrett's article said:
"The top five places people plan to shop at are restaurants, bakeries, clothing stores, gift shops and book stores"Kind of figures, so it's quite fitting that President Obama and his daughters Sasha and Malia went to One More Page Books in Arlington, VA today, per this blog post from The Hill by Justin Sink and Alicia M. Cohn:
'They stayed in the bookstore for just over half an hour, according to a White House pool report, and immediately returned to the White House.If your business relies on impulse buyers, then such "strategery" isn't quite what you have in mind. But the old Syms advert that I remember when I lived in NYC went:
Despite a lack of browsing, the president bought 15 children's books during the stop. The White House reported the purchases will be given as gifts to family this year for Christmas. Obama explained that he prepared ahead, apparently consulting a Christmas shopping list on his BlackBerry.
"Preparation," the president told shop owner Eileen McGervey, according to the report. "That's how I shop."'
"An educated consumer is our best customer."Of course, ideally, every day should be a day for shopping at indie/small businesses. Not the easiest thing to do in big-box/lowest-prices-no-matter-what nation. It would be nice if we were also more informed consumers, where if nothing else, we'd eat a lot healthier and shop more healthy at the grocery. But we don't.
So unlike me, did anyone else here shop their small businesses today? Feel free to share your stories if you did, and if you didn't, 'tis time for the usual SNLC protocol, namely your loser stories of the week.....