Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Gray Thursday (also referred to as that fairly well-known holiday, Thanksgiving).
It seems that nearly every day of the week toward the end of November has a color or adjective attached to it. But over the last decade, that list of days cannot be written without adding one more: Small Business Saturday.
American Express created the Small Business Saturday campaign in 2010, occurring the day after Black Friday, as a way to bring awareness to the small mom-and-pop stores in a season dominated by big box and online retailers.
The campaign has become a phenomenon. According to a study by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business, customers who shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday in 2018 across the United States reported spending $17.8 billion that day. Since its founding, customers have spent $103 billion.
Small business is big business in San Benito County and southern Santa Clara County.
According to the Gilroy Economic Development Corporation, Gilroy has roughly 2,200 businesses that employ fewer than 100 people each, accounting for more than 13,000 jobs in the city, or 70 percent of all jobs.
In Morgan Hill, 1,267 firms have fewer than 100 employees each, according to the California Employment Development Department. A total of 981 of those have fewer than nine employees each.
San Benito County has 1,429 businesses with 20 or fewer employees. A little more than a thousand of those have fewer than four employees each.
“When you support a local business, you’re also supporting your city,” said Gary Walton, president of the Gilroy Downtown Business Association. “Businesses pay sales taxes to our city, which are in turn used to support public schools, parks, roads and sidewalks, as well as fund public service workers, like firefighters.”
According to Walton, studies have shown that roughly 48 percent of each purchase at a local business recirculates back into the community, compared to less than 14 percent of purchases from chain stores.
“It is pretty clear that small businesses are key contributors to a community’s quality of life and help reduce the city’s need to ask for additional taxes from the community, because more of your dollars are recirculated in the local economy compared to the national chains,” he said.
Corey Shaffer, executive director of the Hollister Downtown Association, said small businesses offer personalized service, something not seen at big box retailers.
“Small Business Saturday is a chance for a small business to really promote their business and the uniqueness of shopping at a small, one-on-one business,” she said.
Walton said Small Business Saturday is an awareness campaign that will hopefully encourage shoppers to return to local businesses throughout the year.
“The GDBA encourages the community to support our local small businesses as part of your regular routine throughout the year,” he said. “They may be small business but they do have a big impact on Gilroy’s uniqueness and strong sense of community.”
Business to business
Many small businesses from Morgan Hill to San Benito County will be open on Small Business Saturday, offering various discounts and other perks to entice shoppers to walk through their doors.
Downtown Hollister businesses, for instance, will mark Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30 by organizing a “downtown shop hop,” encouraging shoppers to visit by offering raffles and prizes.
Kathina Szeto, owner of San Benito Bene at 615-B San Benito St., proudly displays a list, titled “10 Ways Small Businesses Benefit the Local Community,” near the front door of her downtown Hollister business:
1. Community identity
2. Community involvement
3. Community health
4. Environmental benefits
5. Increasing the tax base
6. Local jobs
8. Innovation and competition
9. Less Infrastructure and low maintenance
10. Diverse, locally made products and services
“This is what guides me,” she said.
The cozy, 700-square-foot business offers a variety of local products such as olive oils, pottery, soaps and spices. A map posted on a wall at San Benito Bene displays some of the many local establishments that have products for sale inside the business, such as Pinnacle Organic Produce, Mansmith’s Gourmet, Uvas Gold Apiary, B&R Farms, Christopher Ranch and more.
Spices, gourmet mustards, smoked ketchup, tea leaves, apricot preserves, local honey and olives are also sold.
Bath products include goat milk lotions, body butters and healing bath salts. There are also toys made in Hollister, and locally made jewelry and chocolates.
“My favorite part about collaborating with local growers and artisans is hearing about how they’re doing,” Szeto said, “how their product is coming along during the seasonal changes, and learning about their innovative ways. I enjoy sharing these stories with our customers and in turn hear more about the history of San Benito County.”