$mall Business Saturday 2015
Spending your money locally has a ripple effect of goodness

By Laurie Arendt - News Graphic Correspondent

Nov. 24, 2015

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 holiday shopping.

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 shopping tradition.

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.

The 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.

This Saturday, some businesses in the Mequon-Thiensville business community are thanking local shoppers by providing special discounts and giveaways during shopping hours.

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 experience.”

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 http://shopozaukee.weebly.com/.

“We 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.

“We 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.”