Give Alexa and Siri November 24 Off

Date: November 19, 2018

Guest editorial by NFIB Colorado State Director Tony Gagliardi

The following guest editorial was offered to the media in Colorado for free use in their publications and on their websites.

 

Give Alexa and Siri November 24 Off
By Tony Gagliardi

On second thought, maybe promoting Small Business Saturday on November 24 might do more harm than good. Harm in the discomfort it could cause people not used to dealing with human beings when making a purchase, asking about a product, or, heaven forbid, coming across someone they know in a Main Street shop. What to say? Hi? Nice to see you? Alexa! Help!

The numbers grow more astounding each year, “Facebook … saw nearly 19 million users engage in roughly 40 million interactions related to holiday shopping during the first week of November,” reports Digital News Daily. “… eMarketer recently predicted that U.S. holiday shoppers will spend north of $1 trillion.”

According to Connected Thinking, analyzing a study by Citi Retail Services, “Millennials are at the forefront of a shift in the path to purchase … with 60 percent of them planning to use their laptops or PCs for holiday shopping, 55 percent planning to use a mobile device, and 17 percent planning to use voice assistants.”

To be certain, the web has been a boon and benefit to many small-business owners and their customers, as well, but what Small Business Saturday offers – for one day, at least – is a reminder of the many delights of human interaction.

Stepping into Benge’s Shoe Store in Grand Junction, located on an actual Main Street, is a journey into history. It’s been there for 100 years, and you might meet Bruce Benge, whose knowledge of shoes and the shoe business – it’s a safe bet – cannot be matched by a chain store.

Gail Lindley’s Denver Bookbinding Company is a newer business than Benge’s Shoes, it’s only been around for 89 years. It started in 1929 repairing old books and binding new ones. Today, it prints and binds everything from yearbooks to restaurant menu covers. It also offers unique gifts found in few other places. Gail is also a font of knowledge on a rapidly changing business and is happy to discuss it with anyone.

Also proudly Coloradan and rooted in Main Street values is Enstrom Toffee and Confectionary, which has expanded to eight locations throughout the state and is now world famous for its toffee. That it has never forgotten where it came from and how it started can be heard from the enthusiastic staff who are delighted to share the company’s story.

Small business is still holding its own against the big box, big mall, and online behemoths. Seventy-three percent of consumers do plan to visit a brick-and-mortar store and make a purchase, according to the Citi Retail Services study. And, last year, U.S. shoppers spent nearly $13 billion at small, independent stores and restaurants the Saturday after Thanksgiving, according to a survey by NFIB and American Express. Ninety percent of consumers surveyed said Small Business Saturday has a positive impact on their communities.

Summarizing numerous studies on the multiplier effect of small businesses, the American Independent Business Alliance concluded, “On average, 48 percent of each purchase at local independent businesses was recirculated locally, compared to less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores.”

But numbers alone cannot convey what is special about Small Business Saturday. What makes the day special is its way to honor the small-business owners who do so much for their communities: the ones who gave most of us our first job; the ones who will give someone a second chance that a corporation wouldn’t let through its lobby; the ones who know all their employees by name; the ones who will make special accommodations for their workers; the ones who will make and donate the Little League’s uniforms; the ones who sit on the boards of community charities, and the ones who will help their local schools.

This November 24, you can do big by shopping small.

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Tony Gagliardi is Colorado state director for the National Federation of Independent Business.

NFIB Colorado State Director Tony Gagliardi

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