#ShopSmall ~ Spend Local

Pucci’s Carpet One Furniture in Fredonia was the first store in Chautauqua County to sign up to participate in the new Shoptauqua Gift Card program, and now more than 85 stores are taking part.

Article Contributed by
Lisa Yaggie

The holiday shopping season is upon us. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. But maybe most important is Small Business Saturday. No, this is not a Hallmark-made holiday. It is however, a concept created by the American Express company back on November 27, 2010 to help promote small businesses in communities across the country. Each year since, the numbers of shoppers have increased, with an estimated 112 million people getting out in 2016.

As the Black Friday shopping phenomenon continues to expand, it is important to remember how essential it is to shop and spend locally. National statistics show that $68.00 out of every $100.00 spent in local stores and restaurants stays IN that community, compared to only $43/$100 spent with non-locally owned businesses. Additionally, it is important to note that small businesses donate a large percentage more to community charities, area sports teams and not-for-profit fundraisers. Think about all those basket raffles you have participated in and how generous our local shops have been.

By supporting the small businesses in our area we are positively impacting our entire region, not only by keeping jobs and wages here, but also by supporting the dreams and passions of that business owner. The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce is proud to promote Small Business Saturday with their brand new Shoptauqua Gift Card. The gift card can be used at more than 85 merchants (with more adding daily) in Chautauqua County. It is a closed-loop system, so it can’t be taken to non-participating stores or stores elsewhere in the country. It’s sponsored by the CCIDA (Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency) because they, too, see the value in supporting it as a local economic development tool for our retailers and restaurants.

Todd Tranum, President/CEO of the Chamber says “Chautauqua County is fortunate to have a diverse economy, featuring a cross section of sectors including manufacturing, health care, agriculture, tourism and retail. Retail is a key part of that economy. According to the US Economic Census from 2012, we have more than 500 retail establishments with an annual payroll of topping $132-million. Those businesses have a sales value annually of in excess of $1.4-billion. The backbone of our retail sector is the small, independently owned store. Small Business Saturday is a prime opportunity to showcase many of the small, locally owned businesses that carry distinctive merchandise. Our job as a Chamber is to help drive traffic into those businesses and increase the sales of our members,” Tranum said. “It is an honor and privilege to be able to work with the broad range of merchants we have in Chautauqua County.”

A recent study says consumers care about their total shopping experience as much as selecting the items they are purchasing. It is certainly enjoyable to browse around a hometown shop, have a great conversation with the workers and/or owner, and then make a purchase that you know is unique or personalized. This year, the American Express website says “Small Business Saturday belongs to all of us.” So let’s get out there and join in the movement to strengthen our community and shop local.

If you are an active social media participant, use AmEx’s #ShopSmall hashtag in your posts to also help promote this day.