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Support Small Business Saturday and Urban Economies This Saturday

A version of this post, written by Sathya Vijayakumar, originally appeared on November 26, 2014. View the original here.

American Express’ Small Business Saturday has gone from a curiosity nestled precariously between Black Friday and Cyber Monday to an initiative endorsed by 41 state governors, 43 U.S. senators, and the sitting president of the United States, among others. Consumers who were aware of Small Business Saturday spent $5.7 billion in 2013, as the project turned into an American cultural staple. Still planning to stay home and allow your body to rest and recover from the previous day’s turkey? Here are some solid reasons to Shop Small.

Why Shop Small?

You’ve probably heard more times than you can remember that small businesses are “the backbone of our economy,” the “engines of American prosperity,” or some variation thereof from any number of politicians and TV personalities. You might even suspect at this point that, as Ben Franklin once said, “When everyone thinks alike, no one is thinking.” However, despite the abundance of clichés, the evidence points firmly in favor of small businesses as key pieces of the American economy. First, small businesses employ over half of the private-sector workforce while creating 2/3 of the nation’s net new jobs over the last 15 years. As a result, making purchases at small businesses supports local hiring by directly supporting their growth.  Second, an estimated $68 out of every $100 at a small business stays in the local economy through taxes, payroll and other expenses compared to just $43 at national retailers and $0 when shopping online. These funds facilitate the development of roads, public services, and neighborhoods that in turn make the environment more hospitable to business success. In itself, the ability to found a small business without bribes, bureaucracy, or other impediments is in a very real way a crucial part of the American idea and one that even many prosperous nations lack the rule of law and institutions to execute consistently. Finally, at ICIC, we’ve seen the impact these firms have had on urban economies across our programs, from the Inner City 100 list published annually in FORTUNE to the Inner City Capital Connections program to our partnership on the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative.

What’s Next?

If you’re a casual shopper, find participating small businesses near you. If you own or work for a small business, download these marketing tools to help promote your business effectively around this national movement. In the meantime, here are three of the fastest growing inner city retailers in America to give you a taste of the type of deserving firms you can support this Small Business Saturday:

Sentiments, Inc.: Shohreh Samani had been in the home products and accessories industry for 20 years when a dog snuggled into a fabric sample in a showroom and she instantly realized she could expand her home line to include pet textile products. A family-owned business located in Los Angeles, Sentiments is market-leading designer, manufacturer, and importer of home and pet textile products to retailers worldwide, including both mass merchandisers and independent boutiques. In addition to creating fashionable and innovative items, Sentiments, is committed to social causes related to its core products, in particular, increasing awareness about homeless pets and sustainability in design and manufacturing.

Raining Rose, Inc.: Raining Rose got its start selling hemp-based cosmetics in 1997. After current CEO Charles Hammond and his partner bought the company in 2002, they swapped the hemp for Iowa-grown soybean oil and expanded the product line. Raining Rose now sells soaps, lotions and its best-selling lip balm, all available through the company’s website and at a retail shop in downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Kindness and social responsibility are the hallmarks of this fast-growing company as exemplified by its cruelty-free products, renewable packing, and name itself – “Rain” and “Rose” are the middle names of the founding owner’s two daughters.

Sweet Endings:  Before she was a successful CEO, Judy Leibovit was a single mother with $250, a passion for desserts, and no professional baking experience. Inspired by the elaborate confections she admired on a trip to Washington, DC, she decided to use her savings to purchase the finest chocolate and vanilla that she could find in her hometown of West Palm Beach, FL. By building strong relationships with key local customers like the Palm Beach Yacht Club, Leibovit cultivated a devoted following, and her gourmet dessert bakery now distributes its products at a national level. “Passion and compassion” are the core values of Leibovit’s business, and she prides herself on a team that feels like family, with members who have stayed with her for decades.


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