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Field Notes. Entry 104. Small Business Saturday is the New Black Friday

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

by Kristen Eads Covington

This Thanksgiving is weird. Last year, I was frantically organizing a massive Small Business Saturday event in my small storefront on Andrews Highway, with hundreds of people pouring in and out all day. We went on the news beforehand, and had press at the event. We gave away over $2500 in gift cards and prizes to local businesses, and we hosted over 15 vendors at a pop up event with our neighbors across the street, Higher Grounds Coffee Shop. This year will be a much quieter event. We will have a single vendor pop up, and hopefully a steady stream of shoppers without any major crowds. This Small Business Saturday may be different, but I'm spending this Thanksgiving week feeling so grateful for the community that has kept our doors open this year. Midlanders have opened their hearts to small business in a special way, and the local businesses in our town have seen enough ebb and flow from the oil and gas industry to weather this storm with creativity and tenacity. "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." It's partially true. We do what we do because we love it, but running a small business is the hardest job I've ever had. Would I trade it for anything else? Not a chance. I get to work with family! I bring my kids to work (sometimes I even do it on purpose) and I am constantly challenged to grow and learn. It is a blessing and a curse, as we carry burdens and stresses unique to entrepreneurship along with our triumphs. Along the way, I've made it my mission to support as many small businesses as I can, every day. As someone who runs and contributes to multiple small local businesses, I see the way that choosing local transforms the mind and connects the individual to the community. I have met so many amazing local people through this journey, and I have never felt more plugged in to the town around me. "Love is not a noun, but a verb." Our world is set up to favor the big guys. Sometimes it takes more effort to support small businesses, but the value is in keeping the money in our local economy. We better the lives of our friends, family and neighbors every time we choose to shop locally. We create local jobs, local products and a more diverse economy. People always want more good things in our town, and the way to get them - and to keep them - is to support them. Shopping locally doesn't always mean you have to lose convenience. The most amazing thing about 2020 for my business is the fact that we finally got online after talking about it for years. Our customers can now visit and shop 24 hours a day. They can choose free local pickup or have small items shipped directly to their house without their money zooming off to a faraway billionaire's money pit, never to be seen in Midland again. I know many other local businesses have adapted to go online this year as well. When you buy locally, your sales tax stays here. And I guarantee you that local business owners are going to be more conscious about spending their money locally too. According to Buy The Basin, for every $100 you spend at locally owned businesses, $68 stays here. I come from a family of entrepreneurs. On a recent phone call with my aunt and uncle, my aunt described running a business in 2020 as "trying to ride a bicycle on a seesaw." Let's give the local business owners a reminder that we are here for them, even when times are tough. Especially when times are tough. First, make it a point to shop local every day, not just on one token day. In 2020, every Saturday is Small Business Saturday. If you can't afford to shop local, there are other ways to support local business. 1. Follow on social media. It may seem frivolous, but a like, share or comment helps. We have some customers who continually engage on our social media pages, and not only does each one help our online engagement, it feels like a little pat on the back to read them. After the last few months, we could all use some encouragement. 2. Write a review or testimonial! Being an active contributor on Google makes a real difference to the small businesses in your community. Some of my reviews on Google Maps have had thousands of views. 3. Even better, refer personally! Speak out, share the love. When someone compliments your earrings, you tell them all about the local boutique that sells them. Make a post on your Instagram bragging about your hairstylist, brunch spot, taco truck, what have you. You're an influencer and you might not even know it. Next year, I hope we are around to host our biggest Small Business Saturday event to date. More than that, I hope that we don't need Small Business Saturday to play catch up to the big boys. I want 2020 to remind us to value our local relationships, a connected community and a thriving local economy.

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