NFIB State Director, Dawn McVea

**Contribution by MS NFIB director, Dawn McVea**

Mississippi needs its small businesses, and small business needs us.

That’s why I hope everyone will support local shops and restaurants on Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday, which, of course, is the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season.

Black Friday is great if you’re in the market for cheap air fryers and smart TVs, but it’s kind of a hassle. It doesn’t matter that the pre-Black Friday deals started well before Halloween and that a lot of people will be shopping online. There’ll be long lines and short tempers.

Small Business Saturday is the opposite of that. It seems like shoppers are in a pretty good mood on Small Business Saturday. They’re supporting their friends and neighbors, but they’re also finding things you can’t get at the mall, and chances are they’re dealing directly with the owner, someone who’ll do everything they can to turn a holiday shopper into a regular customer.

Convincing customers to shop throughout the year is important because Mississippi’s economy is built on its small businesses. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 99.3 percent of all businesses in Mississippi are small businesses, and, together, they employ 46 percent of the state’s workers.

Helping these businesses recover from the Great Recession is what prompted American Express to come up with Small Business Saturday in 2010. Since then, Small Business Saturday has taken on a life of its own.

Last year, spending at independent shops and restaurants on Small Business Saturday reached an estimated $23.3 billion, up 18% from $19.8 billion the year before and a substantial increase from the $19.6 billion spent in 2019, according to a survey by American Express and my association, the National Federation of Independent Business. That included spending in person and online at small, independent businesses as well as dining in or ordering carryout from local restaurants.

I believe it’s important that we support local businesses because they’re facing many of the same challenges as the national chains. They got through the worst of the pandemic only to face supply chain issues and inflation that’s driving up the cost of everything from rent to wrapping paper.

Unless we shop small and shop local, some of these Main Street shops and restaurants might not make it, and we can’t afford to lose them. Small businesses make our communities strong and keep our economy healthy. When we support local businesses, 67 cents of every dollar we spend stays in the community, according to a study by American Express.

When we help small businesses, the entire community benefits.

Dawn McVea is state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.