Salute And Shop At Small Businesses
Our editorial for the Nov. 30, 2011 issue of the Gazette cited American Express’ second annual Small Business Saturday, an effort to encourage shoppers in search of holiday bargains to patronize local stores as well as or instead of joining the hordes thronging big-box retailers. We do not have statistics to demonstrate how many shoppers heeded the call, but we think we can safely postulate that more than one locally owned and operated mom-and-pop enterprise saw an increase in trade in the closing months of last year.
We hope Small Business Saturday did more than increase holiday patronage of local enterprises. Too often, the role local businesses play in the life of the communities they serve can tend to be overlooked. Owners and proprietors of small businesses are the moving forces behind Business Improvement Districts, merchant and business associations and local chambers of commerce. Through these organizations they foster clean streets, holiday lights, tree lightings, Fourth of July festivities and sidewalk sale days. Yes, these activities earn recognition for the enterprises that sponsor them, but they add to a community’s sense of self and civic pride as well.
Many of the families that patronize local small businesses find them valuable adjuncts to their children’s formal education. Kindergartners take the dollar bill an aunt or uncle tucked in a birthday card to the corner store and learn the first of a lifetime’s worth of lessons about getting the most for their money at the candy counter. A few years later, these same children, now adolescents, obtain their first jobs working part-time after school and on weekends at the local delicatessen, fruit-and-vegetable stand or corner drug store. They learn the value of their labor, take pride in their accomplishments and forge a powerful and long lasting connection to the neighborhood they live in. A teen who spends a Saturday morning sweeping the sidewalk in front of the florist shop where he has a weekend job is unlikely to look kindly upon anyone, even any of his contemporaries, who drops a gum wrapper on the pavement. Small businesses give back to their communities by building a trained, educated, and, most important, motivated work force.
That small businesses survive and even thrive in New York City is a testament to the determination and resiliency of the spirit of their proprietors and owners. This city is not an immediately commercial-friendly environment. Small business owners many times must make their way through a convoluted tangle of permits, licensing requirements and bureaucratic mazes to be able to open their doors and keep operating. That many do so in spite of the obstacles is testament to the power of the human spirit and to the esprit de corps such enterprises generate. The civic and business organizations to which the operators of such businesses belong are, as we stated, the backbone of community good and welfare, due in very large part to the drive and determination of the small business owners who make up their ranks.
We salute the owners and operators of the small businesses of all sorts that line the streets of our neighborhoods and make our communities the thriving, viable areas that they are. We call on our readers, most of whom are our neighbors and friends, to continue to patronize these businesses as much as possible. The value of an item sold at a corner store for a few pennies more than at a big-box retailer many times proves to be far greater than its price in dollars and cents alone. Good relationships between business owners and their customers and the additional safety and security provided to a streetscape simply because a business is open and operating add to the worth of an open, thriving business to the neighborhood it serves immeasurably and in more ways than only by dint of the bottom line. During the year which has just begun and for long after, we urge our readers to make use of the goods and services offered by their neighborhood small business owners as much as is humanly possible. By aiding our neighbors in their commercial and business enterprises we add to our property values and the quality of life in our communities as well.