Small Business Saturday

Stop by Town Center Music this Friday and Saturday – we won’t be open crazy hours, but we’ll have a bunch of special deals happening for your shopping enjoyment. But first, here’s Aaron trying to put together some thoughts on Small Business Saturday and Shopping Small.

AMEX_Shop_Small_Street_RGB_GRAD_LogoI grew up in a farm family. Not a “three cows, some chickens, & a pig” type farm, but a large commercial operation that sold crops to national food producers as well as local co-ops. A lot of what I saw on that farm sticks with me today, especially the importance of contributing in ways both large and small. I remember watching huge truckloads of potatoes and beans making their way to places where they’d eventually end up on store shelves. I also remember crates of sweet corn being given to families that might not have been able to afford it otherwise. These are the things that stick with me now that I have my own business, and this is why I’m proud to participate in events like Small Business Saturday.

Let me just get this out there: I buy stuff from companies like Amazon.com and Wal-Mart. Sometimes a big chain store is the best (even the only) option. Large corporations have become a part of our everyday lives, and there’s not much we can do to change that. There are whole economic segments that have been practically taken over by big chain stores. But I believe that we can’t give up on those around us who see a service to perform or a good to offer and try their best to make a living performing or selling better. There’s something ultimately fulfilling about knowing you’ve contributed to the livelihood and well-being of your neighbor.

That’s the philosophical argument for supporting small business, and it’s a good one. But there are times when our personal economics start to muscle in on our altruistic impulses. We start making choices based on immediate financial savings – a dollar here, seventy-five cents there, free shipping over yonder, etc. we think these things are saving us big. Let’s investigate that.

I own a small business. My work gives me multiple opportunities to give back in ways both large and small. We teach 150 students a week to play instruments, but our contribution goes beyond that. Both our city and our county collect a yearly property tax on our inventory. This goes toward many of our cities projects and events we love. Our county tax payment helps fund things like schools and infrastructure (roads, signs, etc). Amazon doesn’t pay property tax on inventory in Georgia. Also, as a Gwinnett County resident, the property taxes I pay on my home go to schools and infrastructure. Neither Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder) nor any member of the Walton clan (Wal-Mart) live in Gwinnett. As a retail outlet in Georgia, we collect sales tax on behalf of the state and the county – something else Amazon doesn’t do.

Here’s the point: depending on which study you read, anywhere from 35-65% more of your money spent at a local retailer stays in your community. This money goes to schools, roads, and many other community projects. I’m not advocating a wholesale lifestyle change here, just a couple of different choices would help. Instead of going to Kinkos, why not stop by and see Jeff at Postal Plus? Next time you want a delicious seafood dinner, go to Gulf Coast Grill instead of Red Lobster. I’m sure the guys down at the Beer Growler would love to sell you some local brews. Do you need musical equipment or instruction? May I humbly suggest Town Center Music? All of these business will be competitively priced and offer more service & expertise than a large chain can, and you’ll have the added bonus of knowing your money stays where it does the most good – in your own community.