Updated: Aug 31, 2020
“Support small business.” “Shop small.” “Shop local.” We’ve all heard these phrases and have a basic understanding of why we should do so, but supporting small business isn’t just about helping a business owner succeed. While that’s undoubtedly important, supporting small business also affects the community as a whole. Scroll below to find out how small businesses help communities thrive and how you can support locally-owned operations.
3 Ways Small Business Bolster the Community
Main street businesses may be small, but they are mighty. In fact, small businesses have a significant impact on any community. From establishing a unique community identity and preserving small-town culture to improving a city’s economic health, standing for small business benefits all involved.
Small Businesses Keep Jobs Local & Boost the Local Economy
The U.S. Small Business Administration revealed that “small businesses have created two out of every three net new jobs since 2014.” In addition to keeping jobs local, many business owners recognize the need to develop the workforce. Organizations like LB Homes offer on-site training programs to help individuals get hands-on experience while completing their education. Others partner with area schools to guide curriculums and provide training and resources to the current and future workforce.
Every local job that is created allows more people to live and work in the community. Those that live and work in the area also tend to shop locally, which benefits the local economy. Dan Zierden, owner of Fergus Falls Home and Hardware, believes this is a key piece of the economic puzzle. He says, “Shopping a locally-owned and operated store like ours means that virtually all the money that is made above expenses stays in our community.” Whether running errands, grabbing lunch at a nearby eatery, or enjoying happy hour at a local pub or brewery, maintaining the cash flow throughout town improves the quality of life for many and encourages them to stay in the community.
Small Businesses Encourage Entrepreneurship
A community composed of thriving small businesses can inspire others to leap into entrepreneurship. Fergus Falls has recently seen an influx of entrepreneurs and small business owners, welcoming 20 new businesses to the community last year alone. From pop-up shops like Peney Cakes to brick and mortar stores like Uncle Eddie’s Ice Cream, a city that fosters entrepreneurship encourages growth.
Lisa Rodgers dreamed of owning her own store for years before opening Liza Jayne’s Home Decor and Gifts in November of 2019. She has always enjoyed decorating and revamping furniture and decor. After moving to the area about five years ago, she “saw a need for a store of this nature in Fergus Falls and had a desire to be part of the community.” When she found the perfect location on Junis Avenue, it felt like fate. Even though the building was a little worn down, Rodgers wasn’t deterred. After all, her business is all about reviving “less than desirable” items. “With a lot of work and TLC, that tired little building on Junis was given new life,” she recalls. The beautification of her building was an added bonus for the Fergus Falls community, and one many like ours experience when new businesses move in.
Small Businesses Are Invested In the Community
Small business owners are, without a doubt, invested in helping their community succeed. In addition to providing local jobs, many small businesses collaborate with and buy from other businesses in the area. Locally-owned retailers are more likely to be involved in community programs, volunteer, donate to local causes, and participate in events and festivals. The decision to do so is often simple because, as Zierden says, “By helping some of our community, we help all of our community.” Rogers adds, “Shopping in small businesses is a gift to all. The care and concern that shop owners offer can seldom be found in big businesses.”
Another community-oriented element of owning a small business is the desire to provide an array of products and services to better serve consumers — something both Zierden and Rogers take to heart. Zierden recently purchased The Country Store of Fergus Falls and will begin incorporating its inventory and services into Fergus Falls Home and Hardware. “We’re bringing the best of both businesses together,” Zierden remarks. “We hope to build up our hardware side to be a terrific asset to the community, carrying what people need for pets, lawns, hardware, tools, paint, and so much more.”
For Rodgers, it’s about offering unique pieces that her customers can’t necessarily find elsewhere. While she primarily focuses on vintage pieces, she also sells a large variety of new items from decor companies. The balance between refinished and new pieces allows her to cater to the needs of a broader range of people.
How to Support Small Businesses Year-Round
Standing for small goes far beyond shopping during Small Business Saturday. It’s crucial to find ways to support locally-owned ventures year-round. That being said, making a purchase isn’t the only way to support the small business community — good news in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Help Spread the Word
If you have a favorite place to shop, dine, or visit, tell people about it. “Word of mouth is the very best advertising. Simply being familiar with what a small business can offer and sharing that is truly what keeps small businesses alive,” Zierden states.
Be Active on Social Media
Many small businesses have a tight marketing budget and look to free advertising on social media. Find your favorite local retailers online and like or follow their accounts. Don’t just be a silent observer, though. Actively engage with their content by liking, commenting, and sharing to help them expand their reach.
Leave Positive Review
Writing a positive review for your favorite main street business only takes a few minutes and can have a significant impact. A study by Podium reports that 93% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. Your review not only encourages others to patronize a business but makes the owner feel good. “So much effort goes into the daily duties of a shop owner and it’s a wonderful feeling to know that others appreciate it,” says Rodgers.
Ask for What You Need
Can’t find what you need at your local small business? Before moving on to a box store or ordering online, consider asking the owner or manager about it. Fergus Home and Hardware welcomes suggestions from its customers for new products and services. “If we don’t have [something], we’re open to stocking items you’d continue to purchase here.”
The Greater Fergus Falls team is proud to be part of a community that is so supportive of locally-owned businesses. Thank you for choosing to support small and shop local! If you have questions about starting your own business, get in touch with our team. We’d be happy to tell you about our Entrepreneur Initiative, help with the site selection process, and share additional resources with you.