By Eric Galatas, Public News Service - Nebraska
Locally produced honey, artwork and handmade scarves and sweaters will not be stuck on a container ship this holiday season, and small businesses are counting on a strong showing on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 27.
Jessica Campos, director of the Women's Business Center at the Center for Rural Affairs, believes lessons learned during COVID disruptions will translate into more people spending dollars at mom-and-pop shops across Nebraska.
"I think the pandemic has been a catalyst for many Americans in both rural and urban settings to think more locally in terms of supporting their neighbors, their local food systems, and local economies," Campos explained.
Almost half of all small businesses in the U.S. surveyed by American Express said they need above-average holiday sales to keep their doors open.
Campos pointed out when small businesses close, communities lose an employer, a school sponsor and a neighbor if they are forced to find work elsewhere.
While it can be tempting to shop at big-box stores or corporate chains for slightly lower prices, Campos noted most Nebraskans understand small businesses are the backbone for local economies.
"Shopping locally has added bonuses," Campos contended. "Some offer free gift wrapping and advice if you're looking for that perfect gift, that perfect coffee, that perfect pair of shoes in your local boutiques."
Almost two-thirds of small businesses have a functioning website, and Campos emphasized most make it easy to shop safely online, or to place orders by phone, where there is a good chance you will be speaking directly to the owner. If you are on a tight budget, she added there are other ways you can help boost local economies.
"Supporting small businesses isn't all about shopping," Campos stressed. "Just liking and sharing on social media supports your local businesses. Share promotions, posts and hashtags, these are great motivators for others in your community to support small businesses."