Small businesses counting on Nebraskans to shop local

Small Business

By Eric Galatas, Public News Service (Nebraska)

Small businesses are counting on support from local shoppers this holiday season to stay in business and are following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines to keep customers and staff safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Jessica Campos, director of the Center for Rural Affairs Women's Business Center, said even if the allure of low prices at corporate chains can be tempting, most Nebraskans realize that small businesses are the backbone for local economies.

"As soon as we lose a small business, not only do we lose an employer, we lose a school sponsor, we lose our neighbor, we lose a friend," Campos observed. "There's a lot aside from economic damage that happens when we lose a small business."

Small businesses have had to pivot how they do business during the pandemic, including converting social media sites to virtual storefronts, adding curbside pickup options and contactless delivery.

Nearly half of all small businesses in the U.S. surveyed by American Express say they need above-average holiday sales to keep their doors open next year.

Campos noted you'll look long and hard to find big-box stores that sponsor local baseball and soccer teams, and this holiday season is an opportunity to return that support to small businesses.

Nebraskans who took an economic hit during the pandemic might not be able to spend a lot of money at mom-and-pop shops, but Campos maintained everyone has a role to play.

"There's also other ways to support our small businesses," Campos explained. "Something as simple as sharing their website, social media, liking their page on Facebook, 'You know what, this is a great pizza place.' Telling our story."

Nine of ten people surveyed said they are more likely to shop at a small business that's been recommended by friends or peers.

Smaller outfits can't compete with corporate chains when it comes to advertising on TV or mailing circulars. But Campos said taking the time to find and support local stores will pay important dividends for communities in the long run.