Make a Difference on Small Business Saturday, November 28th
We don’t think much about running into our towns. It might be to pick up a gift or drop off our grandkids at music, karate, or art class. Or, to meet up with friends for dinner at a local restaurant. That seems like a long time ago. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed all that. And, it is leaving scars on every community in every state across the country. The boarded up shops and restaurants with “closed” signs tell part of the story we’re all experiencing. But, we are in a position to make a difference. Many of us can keep shopping. We can save our small businesses and by extension, preserve the very culture that defines our communities. That seems like a worthwhile impact this holiday season.
Why Try to Save Our Small Businesses?
Broadly speaking, there are some 31 million small businesses in the US. They represent 99.7% of all employers. By contrast, there are only 20,000 large businesses. The small guys are defined as any business with 500 or fewer employees. They are truly the little engines that could.
Many of us got our first jobs at one of our own local small businesses. It might have been a hostess at a diner. Or, sweeping up at the hair salon or trying our hand in retail shop. The candy shoppe, scooping ice cream, or helping customers find items at the corner hardware store. We found out how paychecks really work and what “take-home pay” means!
Looking at the small business category, we acknowledge they are the economic drivers of every community. Between 2000 and 2019, small businesses accounted for more than 65% of net new job growth. And, women and minorities embrace small business ownership in a significant way:
- 10 million women and 7.6 million minority individuals have their own solo businesses (out of 24.8 million);
- Almost 20% of all small businesses with employees are owned by women and another 17% are minority-owned.
Boomers Embrace Small Business Ownership
Plus, lots of Baby Boomers have fully embraced steering their own ship. A couple of years ago I wrote a post about Boomers becoming their own boss. You’ll find some good information in Boomer Small Business Owners: Is Being Your Own Boss in Your Retirement Dreams?
In the latest reports, the trends toward small business ownership among Boomers is, well, booming. Since 2013, even more Boomers age 65 and older are self-employed. Their share of the self-employeds has increased from 14% to 16.3% between 2013 and 2018.
And, COVID-19 has forced many older workers into unemployment, and some into early retirement at the worst possible time. According to recent research, “During the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, workers age 55 and older were 17% more likely to lose their jobs than employees who were just a few years younger.”
In March, the unemployment rate for those 55 and older was 3.3%. By April, it was 13.6%. And, the October unemployment numbers show the older population is at 5.4%. Collectively, there are some 1.4 million older workers still looking for a new job since April.
Restaurants Hardest Hit
This pandemic has caused great harm to so many small businesses, their owners and employees. Thirty-four percent of all small businesses reported financial impact due to the situation. But, those with the most negative consequences have been restaurants and the hospitality industry.
It has been a roller coaster for your local restaurants. One minute they are open, the next they were shut down. Then, takeout was available and some outdoor dining. Then some had to pause. The local restaurant owners had to rally together to win permission to include alcohol with takeout. And, now, if you live anywhere with cold weather, indoor dining has been curtailed by 75%, if it’s available at all.
The saddest part of restaurants being hit so hard is that they are the hub and the heart of our towns. They’re where we celebrate major family milestones. Where we meet friends for dinner and an overdue catch up. Not to mention, local restaurants sponsor our kids and grandkids. They support little league, soccer, and willingly give gift cards for school raffles. We’ll lose all that if we don’t all chip in now and work to save our small business restaurants.
So far in this pandemic, over 100,000 restaurants have closed.
A Profile in Adapting and Overcoming
Those who know me well know I complain about making dinner. You know I’ve already made some 13,500 dinners. And, I have another 13,500 still to create. It gets tiring and tiresome. So, family-owned restaurants and diners are favorites of mine. And, I will drive miles out of my way to go to such a place.
I’ve missed going out to dinner these past months. We’ve continued to get takeout at some of our local places. The Tavern on the Wharf in Plymouth, Massachusetts is my favorite among favorites. Their entire menu is gluten free, and they make the best fish and chips a GF person can get.
I recently met the operations manager and marketing manager at the Tavern. They were kind enough to be interviewed for my article in Retirement Daily at The Street. Their story of adapting and overcoming is nothing short of amazing. They represent what the local restaurants in your town have been doing behind the scenes.
Please take a few minutes to read my latest article: Thankful and Grateful for Local Small Businesses. Restaurants still standing adapting to survive. But it’s clear, they won’t make it if we don’t all chip in.
It’s Time to Save Our Small Businesses
We’ve had other recessions, other economic downturns over the years. But, this one feels extra awful. The quarantines, stay-at-home orders, and restricted travel weigh on everyone. And, to boot, we can’t get together locally with friends and family for something as simple as dinner.
But, we can make every effort to save our small businesses. Never before have I seen such honest, outright, loud and clear requests to support the local folks. Whether it’s takeout from your local pizza place, getting your car serviced at “BJ’s Auto,” or buying your favorite wife jewelry at the family-owned jeweler, save your town’s small businesses.
This Saturday, November 28th, is once again Small Business Saturday. Fortunately, you don’t even have to leave your house to shop at your local small business! So many now have websites or Facebook pages showcasing their products. Gift cards are always a good option. And, takeout menus are right on your smart phone. Order dinner on your way home from any shopping you might have done.
10 Tips to Help Save Our Small Businesses
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am keeping in mind how important our small business community is. I’m thinking local and shopping local. I included a “10 tips list” in my Retirement Daily article. This one is similar. Thought you might find it helpful as you look for ways to bolster up your town. See how many you can do. If we all do a little bit, we can save our small businesses until this virus is tamped down.
The first 5 tips:
- Tip 20 – 25%. Regardless of how you are getting your food, tip generously if you can. The staff count on tips to make ends meet day-to-day vs. paycheck-to-paycheck.
- Checkout your local shops on Facebook and Instagram. So many locals weren’t using social media…but they are now! “Like” their pages and follow them for the latest deals.
- Subscribe to your local newspaper. Yes, that seems old-fashioned. But it’s still a great way to get information about all the businesses that make your hometown so special.
- Wear a mask. It’s not hard. Protect the cashiers, servers, delivery folks.
- Be patient if dining out. Nothing is running as quickly as it used to. If you want a table, only 25% of seats are available. The kitchen staff is short-handed so it will take longer to cook your food.
And, the next 5 tips:
- Call ahead. Even if a restaurant doesn’t take reservations, call ahead to see how busy they are and plan accordingly. And, check their hours which can change frequently.
- Sign up for your Chamber of Commerce newsletter. Even if you aren’t a small business, your local Chamber features many local businesses. You can get current information right to your email.
- Buy gift cards. Order gift cards online, call ahead to order, or stop by any local shop. Gift cards are especially meaningful to younger folks who might be on a shoestring budget, or to older folks who can use them for takeout.
- Write good reviews. Use Yelp, Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, etc. to write up good reviews. Skip the nasty reviews for now. Someone was probably just having a bad night – and it might have been you!
- Add local restaurants to your phone contacts list. Then, pick a new restaurant to call each week and order take-out.
We’re In This Together
One of the most memorable comments the folks at the Tavern told me was “we’re in this thing together.” They are doing everything possible on their end – especially on the cleaning and sanitizing side of things. Now, they just need all of us to do our part. They get that folks don’t want to do indoor dining, but takeout and delivery work just as well.
We are in this together. It’s about our communities. So, starting with Small Business Saturday, November 28th, let’s each do one thing to save our small businesses. It’s important.
Now, where did I put my phone? Need to call the Tavern for takeout…