While many holiday shoppers are already gearing up for “Black Friday,” the Marysville and Arlington communities are asking that they keep “Small Business Saturday” in mind as well on Nov. 24.
“Small Business Saturday” was started two years ago by American Express to help promote local stores across the country, and representatives of the business communities of Marysville and Arlington agree that the small businesses in their cities add up to an economic engine which drives the region’s prosperity.
“Small business is big business in Marysville,” said Caldie Rogers, president and CEO of the Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce. “From our town’s inception as a trading post, small business was, is and will continue to be a major vital driver in our local economy and quality of life.”
According to Rogers, small businesses make up 95.8 percent of Marysville’s licensed business community; 57.7 percent with four or fewer employees, 21.4 percent with five to nine employees, 10 percent with 10-19 employees and 6.7 percent with 20-49 employees.
“These are our hometown heroes,” Rogers said. “They greet us by name when we walk through their doors. They help us make sound buying decisions. They guide us to neighboring local businesses if they do not have what we are searching for, and they serve us as if we were one of the family.”
Mary Jane Harmon, managing director of the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce, likewise characterized Arlington as a home to many small businesses, including a large number of single proprietor businesses, all of which the Chamber supports and promotes through its “Buy Local” campaign.
Harmon agreed with Rogers that dollars spent at locally owned businesses and retailers help to create local jobs, fund city services through sales tax revenues, and make their communities more resistant to downturns in the economy. Harmon additionally touted the environmental benefits of buying local, noting that shorter distances driven aid in reducing carbon emission and petroleum use, while local products require less packaging and shipping, yielding savings of time and money for consumers.
“It also builds community,” Harmon said. “Local purchases are more likely to be social interactions as well as business transactions as you get to know your local merchants. Local businesses contribute more to our schools and community events, and nonprofit organizations in our community receive an average of 250 percent more support from local business owners than they do from large national chains.”
Not only does “Small Business Saturday” have its own Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SmallBusinessSaturday, but so too have the Downtown Marysville Merchants Association and the Downtown Arlington Business Association employed their own Facebook pages — at www.facebook.com/marysville.merchants and www.facebook.com/BuyLocalArlington, respectively — to promote themselves and their “Small Business Saturday” specials online.
Mary Kirkland, owner of Hilton Pharmacy in Marysville, explained that doormats with the “Shop Small” logo have been ordered for all DMMA members, while Hilton Pharmacy itself will debut notice of its one-day-only special for “Small Business Saturday” on its own Facebook page.
“We were delighted by the response we had at last year’s event,” said Kirkland, who also cited increased participation by Marysville merchants. “So many customers mentioned that they were making a conscious effort to ‘shop small’ at local independently owned businesses.”
Mary Andersen, office manager of the Arlington Pharmacy, expressed equal pride in the 15 percent growth in followers for the DABA “Buy Local” Facebook page since this time last year.
“I’ve been adding a feature business each month, to highlight the services of our local businesses,” said Andersen, whose past profiles have included Bella Bungalow, Acute Autoworks, Favorite Pastime and Copy, Mail & More. “The Facebook page is a great place for residents to discover the wonderful local businesses they have right in their backyard.”
As part of the “Buy Local” Committee, Anderson has used the Internet not only to inform people about Arlington’s business events, activities and opportunities, but also to spread awareness about the importance of buying locally overall. “We’ve been striving for a culture based on the motto, ‘It helps you and it helps your neighbors,’” Andersen said.