MEDIA — Your community needs you to go small after Black Friday, and beyond.
Business and elected officials came to Delaware County Council this week to celebrate the approach of Small Business Saturday, but they warned that the 12,000 small businesses in the county need shoppers all year round, particularly in this online-intense economy. Small Business Saturday is held annually the day after Black Friday, the kick-off into the holiday shopping season.
Officials from Lansdowne, Media and Swarthmore implored shoppers to visit their towns as events are planned at various locations throughout the county Saturday, including 69th Street in Upper Darby, Avenue of the States in Chester, Lancaster Avenue in Wayne and East Hinkley Avenue in Ridley Park.
"No business is small if you’re the owner," Marty Spiegel, Swarthmore's mayor and former Town Center Coordinator, said. "You rely on walk-in traffic. It’s too easy now to get on the computer and with a few key strokes get something delivered to your door free the next day. It’s a challenge. It’s certainly a temptation. But we’re asking you all to spread the word that it shouldn’t be Small Business Saturday, it should be Small Business Every Day.
"Our downtowns and our businesses in our towns are the heart and soul of what make us what we are," he said.
In reading Delaware County Council's resolution supporting Small Business Saturday, council Vice Chairman Colleen Morrone spoke of how these businesses of 100 employees or less impact the county's economy.
"For every dollar spent at a small business, approximately 67 cents stays in the local community," she said. "Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy."
"Every year, we have so many businesses that are closing because they cannot afford high rent," Zubair Khan, executive director of the Media Business Authority, said as he asked council for funding to support small businesses. "Most of the business owners are working themselves. They cannot afford to bring in employees."
Even Media has seen pressures shutter doors in its establishments. For instance, Gangster Vegan Organics on State Street closed down, although a new owner is working to reopen the eatery.
Khan described some of the obstacles facing small businesses.
"We are facing a lot of challenges (from) big-box stores," he said, adding that also, "People just go online and order things and its convenient, it’s delivered to your doors. So we are facing a lot of challenges as we go forward.”
However, he remained optimistic, especially as people are reminded of the pivotal role small businesses play with their focus through Small Business Saturday.
"This is not the end of the road," Khan said. "There are some challenges and there are some doors that need to be open. Some of the businesses in our town are taking advantage of that. Last three or four years, Media has done better on Small Business Saturday sales-wise than Black Friday. People are still used to going to the malls and ordering and buying things from the malls but Saturday has been traditionally very, very successful for Media."
In fact, he said, there have been years where people can't even get into the stores on Small Business Saturday.
"People still realize that mom-and-pop stores are still the mainstay of this economy," he said.
So, he was pleading that shoppers visit small businesses throughout the year, not just one day a year.
"There are a lot of businesses in Delaware County and surrounding counties that depend on these, he said, "and I urge everybody to please support the small businesses, that’s where your main economy is.”
The Swarthmore mayor shared that sentiment. Noting that towns such as his would not have the same character it does without small businesses, Spiegel asked shoppers to remember the mom-and-pop stores even out of season.
"Spread the word – Small Business Saturday should be extended throughout the year,” he said.