Five years from now, one may be able to look back at 2011 as a turning point for Phoenix. It’s not that there has been a major turn in the economy (e.g., it is sad that the Arizona Republic is trumpeting that unemployment is down to 9 %). But in 2011, attention and recognition has finally shined on what has the potential to pull Phoenix out of its economic doldrums: small business. Evidence includes the publicity that November 26—Small Business Saturday—is getting.
Of course, there is always commotion about Black Friday (i.e., the traditionally biggest shopping day of the year), and controversy this year about its door openings creeping closer to Thanksgiving dinner. In the past decade, Cyber Monday became popular as Internet shopping boomed. Hopefully, for a city like Phoenix, with its dearth of big corporate headquarters, the second Small Business Saturday will spark resurgence for many small businesses.
Phoenix had a preview of growing interest in small businesses when Local First Arizona (a non-profit which focuses on businesses based in Arizona) attracted thousands to its Fall Festival on November 12. LFA is currently promoting Buy Local Week (November 25-December 4). Kimber Lanning, who founded the organization, says “We’re excited to see all of the attention around reminding consumers that their money doesn’t spend the same. Doing your holiday spending at a local business keeps up to three times more of your money right here in our community.”
Ironically, the founder of Small Business Saturday is American Express, a Fortune 500 company. It is offering special marketing opportunities for vendors and customers, which use its merchant accounts or credit cards. Other corporations, such as Dun & Bradstreet, Google, FedEx, and Facebook, are also promoting the event. With over one million people pledging to shop small last year, it is profitable publicity for those companies.
Small businesses are becoming more critical to the US economy. Despite the recession, Intuit reported that small businesses have added 700,000 jobs since 2009. The motto of this Saturday’s event is “Shop Small.” American Express reported that nationwide, small businesses saw a 28% increase in sales volume on last year’s Small Business Saturday.
Phoenix was one of the cities, which officially recognized the inaugural event. . Phoenicians can reap great benefits—employment wise and morale-wise–by buying a good or service from a fellow Phoenician and recirculating their dollars within the local economy.