Dozens of locally owned businesses in downtown Colorado Springs and Old Colorado City partook in “Small Business Saturday” — a shopping “holiday” that promotes buying small to make a big community impact.
The aptly named Small Business Saturday seeks to highlight local shops instead of national chains and online sales — a retail goliath that’s forecast to rake in more than $143 billion this holiday season. The initiative was launched in 2010 by credit card conglomerate American Express, which reports that 67 cents of every dollar spent at a local business stays within the community.
Forty-four cents of that 67 cents goes toward employee wages and benefits, American Express reports. The other 23 cents gets reinvested into other local businesses.
Chilly and strong winds made for difficult shopping Saturday, but that didn’t stop members of the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs, which promotes small businesses year-round, from handing out coupon books at Acacia Park for its sixth year promoting the holiday.
“What people really like about shopping local is when you walk into these stores, most of the time you’re going to see the owners,” said Laurel Prudhomme with the partnership. “They do this because they love it. They know their product, they know their merchandise, they can give you really good insight.”
Every year, Small Business Saturday falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It lands between two other massive shopping events: Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which have been largely criticized for promoting consumerism and padding online retailers pockets.
But in downtown Colorado Springs on Saturday — where more than 90% of street-level businesses are locally owned — people were able to shop small, knowing they were enriching their community.
“It’s gaining in popularity every year … ” Prudhomme said. “I think it’s always going to be a little more low-key. That’s something people like about it. Black Friday is crazy lines, get up early, and Small Business Saturday is meander, enjoy; It’s a totally different feel.”
“Small businesses across the Pikes Peak region and throughout Colorado make up 99.5% of all business,” said Aikta Marcoulier with Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center. “Firms with fewer than 100 employees have the largest share of small business employment.”
Three downtown pop-up shops were highlighted at Saturday’s event: The Local Honey Collective at 9 E. Bijou St., Lunieva at 226 N. Tejon St. and Fair Finds Home Decor at 104 N. Tejon St. In Old Colorado City, shoppers could visit with Santa Claus while listening to Charles Dickens Carolers. Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument hosted local authors and offered 25% off items in its holiday catalog.
While Small Business Saturday will likely never reach the magnitude of Black Friday or Cyber Monday, Prudhomme said, it will always give locally-owned businesses in Colorado Springs the chance to build on the community.
“It’s tough to compete with big-box stores and Amazon, and all those companies that have free shipping … ” said Candace Williams, owner of Fair Finds Home Decor. “We’re doing it all on our own. We’re taking risks in order to offer products to the community.”
Contact Liz Henderson, 719-476-1623 Twitter: @GazetteLiz