With Thanksgiving in the past, the thoughts of shoppers are now on Christmas.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become common terms for big shopping days as consumers rush to purchase those special gifts for loved ones.
They certainly have plenty of options as that final countdown to Christmas gets under way.
One we hope they seriously consider comes up in one day, when consumers are encouraged to show their support of local small businesses and “shop small” for Small Business Saturday.
American Express launched this special day in 2010 with the idea that people could make a difference by supporting small businesses.
The focus is on businesses that are locally owned. Statistics show that 52 cents of every dollar that is spent at a local business stays in the community.
“We have a reputation of giving back not only with our finances but with our time,” Louis Spatafore, co-owner of Friendly Furniture Galleries in Fairmont, said of small businesses in general. “We tend to volunteer and do what we can to make our communities better. You don’t always find that with outside interests.”
Consumers, at the same time, can take advantage of unique offerings and personal service.
Small Business Saturday is getting a push from many levels.
The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce believes that “all trade is good trade,” said Steve Roberts, president of the organization, but is especially interested in helping small businesses.
“We try to remind people that buying it here is always a good idea,” he said. “Our economy is about 70 percent a consumer economy, and when people do their holiday shopping locally they support their local economy and they help make sure that people have jobs and have the goods and products that the consumers most want.”
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is urging consumers to visit the state’s local businesses throughout the holiday season.
“Local merchants provide important jobs, goods and services,” he said in a press release. “West Virginia’s small businesses play a vital role in our state and local economies. Small business is big business in West Virginia, and I encourage everyone to take this opportunity to support small businesses on Nov. 30.”
Small businesses make up 96 percent of employers in West Virginia, according to the state Development Office. Also, the employees of small businesses account for 53.1 percent of West Virginia’s private-sector labor force.
The National Federation of Independent Business and American Express recently conducted a nationwide survey to find out small business owners’ plans to try to bring consumers into their shops this holiday season, and they plan to be aggressive.
According to the survey, 67 percent will offer discounts, 39 percent will work with other small businesses on special community events, and 36 percent will offer coupons. In addition, 32 percent of small businesses owners indicated that they were beginning their promotions for the holidays earlier this year, and 21 percent intended to have more staff on hand to work on Small Business Saturday.
In Marion County, Small Business Saturday has a record of success.
Last year, members of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce were very happy with the turnout in their local stores, said President Tina Shaw.
“I think it’s wonderful that it’s become such a national event that now small businesses get recognized ... for at least one day during the holiday season,” she said. “Small businesses are the bread and butter of your community, so they create jobs.”
Rana Taylor, program manager for Mannington Main Street, appreciates efforts to place a focus on what is available from local merchants.
“Any time you can create something different to help your town, those dollars are staying here,” she said. “Any time you can create an event like that that helps the businesses, it’s a good thing.”
Dealing with local merchants on a consistent basis — not just Small Business Saturday — is a win-win proposition. Our locally owned businesses and communities as well as consumers can benefit nicely.
We encourage shoppers to consider the option seriously as they go about their Christmas shopping and make purchases throughout the year.
With Thanksgiving in the past, the thoughts of shoppers are now on Christmas.
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law
West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.
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