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Perks of shopping small

Posted on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 11:02 am

By Tiffanie Reynolds

Staff Writer

For such a small store space, “mom and pop” businesses bring a huge impact to the local community.

Unlike national chain stores that seem to pop up at every street corner, the one-location small businesses give more back to their community in terms of jobs, service and even product selection, to name a few factors. But, it takes a shopper to put any of those factors into play.

“When we shop at these stores, we’re not only assisting this family, we’re assisting our local community. Because, these families buy groceries at the same stores as we do, buy gas at the same gas stations we do. So, the money that we spend, the profits that are made in small businesses, stay in our community and grow our community,” Kissimmee Economic Development Director Belinda Kirkegard said.

 Hal Thayer, communications director of Small Business Development Center, said that 98.9 percent of all employers in Florida are small businesses, according to the Small Business Administration, and they account for more than 40 percent of all private sector jobs.  On top of giving all their profits back to the community, these businesses encourage competition in prices and are able to offer a wider variety of products than national retail chains could.

While they can’t compete with bigger businesses in terms of convenience, they can surpass them with their level of service. Both Kirkegard and Thayer said that small businesses make it their top priority to give each shopper the best experience possible. This doesn’t mean just being attentive and helpful, but having real knowledge of the products that they sell, as well as knowledge of the interest or area that they sell under.

“The perception is that it’s always cheaper at the big box stores. But, the fact is that the small business owner knows what’s going on, and what the competition is doing at the bigger stores. So, they price their products to compete,” Thayer said.

As a shopper, buying in small businesses means putting money toward the community. It also means not only supporting the family that owns the business, but also supporting the character of the place that these businesses are in.

To help promote the sales of small businesses in Kissimmee, Brianne Stefek, executive director of Kissimmee Main Street started the 3/50 Project in August. As part of the program, residents will pick up a 3/50 passport at the Kissimmee Main Street office and use it to record three independent businesses in downtown Kissimmee that they spent $50 toward merchandise or services. If they spend $50 at three businesses within a month, then they can take their passport back to the Main Street office to enter in its monthly drawing.

According to the program, if more people on a national scale spent $50 in small businesses a month, these businesses would generate up to $42 billion in revenue.  This revenue not only goes into the business owner’s pockets, but will also be circulated throughout the community as these business owners spend that money locally.