This weekend, as we enjoy our Thanksgiving turkey and company in person or remotely, it’s important we consider another part of our local “family” – small businesses. This year has been tough for us all, with COVID-19 affecting almost every part of our lives. Schools and businesses have been closed, and important life events have been put on hold or canceled all together. Through all of this, local small businesses have been put through the worst of these effects. They are our neighbors having to deal with keeping their families safe on one hand, and protecting their employees and the businesses they have worked so hard to build on the other. This Thanksgiving weekend, let’s show our appreciation for them too by supporting them however we can.
Local small businesses are the lifeblood of our cities here in Central Minnesota as well as in the United States. According to the federal Small Business Administration, there were 30.7 million small businesses with under 500 employees in the United States in 2019. These businesses employ almost 60 million people, which represents 47 percent of the U.S. workforce. In Minnesota specifically there were 520,110 small businesses with under 500 employees, employing 1.3 million people, which is 47 percent of Minnesota’s workforce. These statistics make clear just how much of an impact small businesses have. By this math, every other worker you meet should work for a small business.
I call small businesses part of our local “family” because they really do so much for us. When you look around and see local sports teams, parks and community projects, small businesses step up to the plate, contributing money and time to support them. Spending local really does help support the entire local area, not just supporting local jobs but almost everything else in the area as well. It also builds local pride, seeing all of the amazing things that are made possible through the support of generous local businesses and their employees.
So what can we do to support small businesses? To start, we need to be intentional. With the latest regulations, supporting small businesses becomes harder because we can’t just eat in person at the local restaurant. It’s tempting to order online from large chains or online stores but if you do some quick research or phone calls, you can find local businesses that are moving their operations to take-out or even limited delivery. Once you know those options are there, it’s easy to keep patronizing like you usually would and spread the word to people you know. Small businesses are still open and getting creative in light of these troubled times. We just need to make the effort to reach out to them and help others to do so as well.
You can also support small businesses by buying gift cards and other products for the holidays. We all have our favorite local store or restaurant, so why not make it part of the holiday shopping list? This is especially easy because there is already a day on the calendar for doing so, Small Business Saturday, which is Nov. 28. It’s a day every year to support and appreciate small businesses, which is even more important now.
So while we enjoy Thanksgiving, we should be sure to thank and support our local small businesses. After all, they do so much for us, and this is a critical time, especially with everything that they have been dealing with. Though it may be some extra effort to search online, make a phone call or walk into the store to figure out what they are doing differently because of Covid-19, this effort is worth it to support local business. Let’s keep our local “family” strong, and make it through this crisis together.
Connor Kockler is a student at St. John’s University. He enjoys writing, politics and news, among other interests.