Support Washington County’s Small Businesses This Holiday Season
Friday, November 19, 2021
As consumers approach the holiday season, a trend to “shop local” is sweeping through communities nationwide. The perfect opportunity for holiday shoppers to help small businesses is this Saturday, November 27, with Small Business Saturday. The event was organized more than a decade ago to highlight the importance of small businesses to local economies. It has been a resounding success, as the National Federation of Independent Business reported that, from 2010 to 2018, $103 billion in sales has been generated for small businesses on Small Business Saturday. In 2018 alone, it reported 104 million shoppers spent $17.8 billion!
This year, Small Business Saturday in Washington County continues to be the perfect time for residents and visitors to familiarize themselves with the entrepreneurs who bring their products and services to benefit customers all year long.
Why Small Businesses?
The U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy reported there are 32.5 million small businesses in the country employing 46.8% of the private workforce and creating 43.5% of gross domestic product. For Minnesota, the number is 533,344 small businesses and 1.3 million employees, or 46.2% of the state's total.
Small businesses fill a critical role as a primary player in a community’s employment base. The Office of Advocacy reports small businesses have accounted for 62% of net new job creation since 1995. Most small businesses hire employees who live close to their operations, so that job creation is an incredible boost to local economies. In Washington County, 95% of all businesses have fewer than 50 employees and 86% have fewer than 20 employees. Small businesses are the backbone of the local economy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on career plans for so many individuals. The U.S. has seen a surge in business starts, with applications for new ventures increasing 24% in 2020 over 2019, according to data from the Census Bureau. Washington County had 2,489 new applications, a nearly 18% increase over the previous year! These entrepreneurs face a difficult path as they begin their journey. The Office of Advocacy reports that from 1994 to 2019, approximately two-thirds of new employer establishments survived at least two years, with the five-year survival rate approximately one of every two businesses.
You Can Help!
With so many new businesses cropping up, it is more important than ever to support them during their critical startup phase. Small Business Saturday is an excellent time to begin, but continuing with the actions below throughout the year is even more meaningful!
- Engage with your friend circle on social media to let them know about your favorite stores. Retweet and like a photo or post to your neighborhood Facebook page!
- Purchase a gift for this holiday season and then buy a gift card to use later in the year!
Dedicate your time! While purchasing goes directly to a small businesses’ bottom line, visiting these establishments regularly is just as critical. Local establishments often have only a few employees who work long hours without a chance to get out to other parts of the community. Stopping in for a quick chat will let these entrepreneurs know their services are valued. Send an email or drop them a call to express how much you value their offerings.
Where to Shop Local
Beginning with Small Business Saturday, many Washington County communities are promoting their small businesses throughout the holiday season. To find more holiday shopping information on all our communities, try the Washington County Community Development Agency website.
The Afton Area Business Association has a comprehensive list of the shops, restaurants and other businesses owned and run by local residents.
Cottage Grove has plenty of shopping opportunities in the southern portion of Washington County. Options can be found at Discover Cottage Grove.
Stillwater decorates its Main Street every holiday season, lighting up the more than 100 locally-owned shops and galleries. Its Hometown for the Holidays event has numerous sponsored events, including Plaid Friday, Shop Small Saturday, caroling tours and a LED Light Show.
Washington County Community Development Agency is proud to help the small businesses and consumers throughout Washington County. Find out more about how we can help during the holidays by contacting us here. The Washington County Open to Business Program is a resource available at no additional cost for small businesses in Washington County.