Even the West Virginia Heritage Crafts co-op celebrated Shop Small this past Saturday, offering artist demonstrations.  Pictured here at a previous event, a co-op member works with two students on a sewing project.

By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD

News & Journal Editor

The West Virginia Small Business Development Center (WV SBDC) is hoping that many folks with retail stores in their downtown areas were sporting stickers on their chests that read “I Shopped Small” after Saturday’s Small Business event!  The goal of this annual event is always to encourage shoppers to do more than just carve a turkey on Thanksgiving weekend, but to also carve out a little time to shop locally!

Small Business Saturday was launched in 2010 and always falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving each year.  This program was created to raise awareness of the importance of small businesses in local communities and to try to bring more customers through their doors.

Here are a few facts and figures that have been gathered to stress the significance of shopping small.  Are you aware that 98% of the businesses in West Virginia are small, community-based businesses?  Therefore, they are large contributors to their communities’ economic vitality.  They also employ nearly 50% of the state’s private workforce!  And for many small retailers, the holiday season accounts for as much as 30% of their annual sales.  These are just a few of the reasons why they rely on customer patronage on Small Business Saturday and holiday shopping during the months of November and December.

“Communities are made special and unique by small businesses,” said Debra Martin, WV SBDC interim director.  “Consumers play a key part in helping small businesses thrive by giving these independent businesses a boost.”

Industry studies report that shopping locally keeps more dollars in the communities where they are located.  Out of $100, for example, roughly $68 remain locally when spent with a small local business – compared to only $48 when spent with a national chain.

If you have any interest at all in helping your community stay alive and well, be sure to visit local merchants!  Even if you missed the ‘shop local’ event this past Saturday, there will be plenty of opportunities prior to Christmas to do some gift shopping at a local shop.  And part of what makes many of them unique is their friendly, more personal service.  Make it a point to support them so they will remain in our midst!  While crossing items off of your shopping list, think of it also as a way to enhance your community’s economy.