OZAUKEE COUNTY — With the holidays coming up, you
absolutely could sit down at your computer and with a
few clicks and a mug of coffee, take care of your
This Saturday, and throughout the entire shopping season
(if not the whole year), consider a different option:
heading out into the community and shopping locally.
“Many people just don’t realize how shopping locally
contributes to economic wealth of community,” said
Cedarburg Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
Kristine Hage. “Our community is mostly made up of small
businesses. People love our downtown, but for it to stay
vibrant, people need to shop in those small businesses.”
Saturday marks the sixth year of Small Business
Saturday, a movement started by American Express that
encourages people to go out and shop local. The idea of
“shopping small” has caught on, both with businesses and
with shoppers, who have turned the day into a holiday
According to American Express, more than 88 million
people made a point of getting out and shopping on Small
Business Saturday to support their community merchants.
The company also estimates that nearly $14.3 billion was
spent at small, independent businesses during last
year’s Small Business Saturday.
movement is also growing locally. According to Hage, 67
Cedarburg Chamber members have signed up for Small
Business Saturday this year, which is sponsored by
Cornerstone Community Bank. Canvas gift bags will be
given away, with one lucky shopper from each
participating merchant walking away with a bonus gift.
“Each participating member is getting one $10 chamber
gift check that will also be passed out to customers,”
said Hage. “That’s nearly $700 in gift checks
distributed through the merchants.”
Shopping small does more than support local businesses;
it also perpetuates community support, says Tim Vertz,
Mequon-Thiensville Chamber of Commerce president and
owner of Vertz Marketing in Mequon.
“When you keep your money in the community rather than
national retailers, it stays in community,” he said.
Katie Culotta, marketing and business coordinator for
Ozaukee Economic Development, agreed. “Sixty-eight cents
of every dollar you spend stays in the local community
compared to only 43 cents when you shop at nationwide
chain retailers,” she said. “Local businesses are also
more likely to support other local businesses when they
need to shop for supplies than major chain stores, which
keeps that local economic boost growing.”
Vertz added that shopping locally helps sustain the
generosity that many local merchants are known for.
Vertz explained that, on average, small businesses
actually donate 250 percent more to communities than the
larger, national retailers.
“Yes, you will see in the news when the larger retailers
make that $5-million donation to something, but what you
don’t see are the every day contributions that small
businesses make – the $500 checks and even the free
products and services,” he said.
Saturday, some businesses in the Mequon-Thiensville
business community are thanking local shoppers by
providing special discounts and giveaways during
Local business leaders stress that it’s important to
support local businesses year-round, and not just on
Small Business Saturday, though that is a great day to
get out and explore the wide variety of local merchants
doing business throughout the county.
“Shopping small can also help produce local employment
opportunities … and local taxes from small businesses
help sustain our communities, which help continue to
make Ozaukee County a great place to live and work,”
said OED’s Culotta. “And let’s face it, when you shop
local you can establish long-lasting relationships with
employees, which makes shopping a much more pleasurable
Culotta says that Ozaukee Economic Development has
recently partnered with the local county chambers to
create Shop Ozaukee, a website devoted to shopping and
sustaining local businesses in the community. The site
is found at
have a page for each of the communities participating in
Shop Ozaukee with links to their local business
directories, any coupons or deals that they are
providing, information on events, etc.,” said Culotta.
While there is a serious message and need to support
local businesses, the OED’s new shopping campaign also
has a fun side to it.
also encourage people to take selfies at local
businesses and use the hashtags #shopozaukee or #shop(community
name),” said Culotta. “We want people to show their
pride in local businesses on social media.”