Did you know that $100 spent in the local business community will keep approximately $56 to $73 in the local economy where the same amount of money spent in non-locally owned businesses only keeps between $16 to $43 dollars in the community?
That’s important to remember as consumers are poised to spend a major portion of our annual gifting budget sometime during the next six to seven weeks.
The ancient Chinese curse -- “May you live in interesting times.” -- is very appropriate for local small business owners this year. Economic uncertainty abounds at the international, national and local levels and small business owners are looking to this very season in hopes of having a successful year overall and being able to continue their operations into the next year.
From my perspective, the one consideration that every consumer should have in his or her mind is: “How can I support my local small business and keep my money local where it benefits me the most?” Please keep in mind this holiday season the importance of these entities to our communities. Without them our quality of life would decrease, fewer taxes would be collected, storefronts would be vacant and a whole host of additional people would be without jobs.
There are quite a few programs to help you in this effort, such as: “Buy Local”, “Small Business Saturday” and “Shifting Your Shopping”. The thrust of all these programs is that more money is kept and used in the community if it is spent with local independent store owners.
The Virginia Small Business Development Center network and the Hampton Roads SBDC have come up with a variety of gift recommendations that are worth considering this holiday season. Included in this list are some of my favorites:
- Gift certificates from specialty food or wine stores. There are a considerable number of shops that offer tremendous products at very reasonable prices. A favourite of mine is The Royal Chocolate in Virginia Beach.
- Everyone needs to get their hair cut or styled…how about a gift certificate at one of the many day spas for a pampering session for that someone special in your life.
- Either day passes or memberships at one of the many museums located in Hampton Roads, such as, The Children’s Museum, The Sports Hall of Fame, The Chrysler Museum, Nauticus, the Virginia Marine Science Museum, the Living Museum and the Air and Space Museum.
- Tickets to one of the many outstanding performances conducted by the “Locally Grown and Nationally Known” Virginia Stage Company. Others include the Hurrah Players and Generic Theatre.
- Tickets to the Tides, Admirals, Sharks or any other local sports team. The same for sporting events at Norfolk State and Old Dominion University.
- How about a gym or YMCA membership (this is one that could be fraught with difficulties for the giver).
- Selden Arcade has more than a few local artists and artisans with beautiful and creative pieces worth considering.
- Grandparents who like to see their grandchildren dressed in smart, fashionable clothes should consider a gift from Connie’s Kids.
- Gift certificates at one of the many outstanding local restaurants located throughout Hampton Roads. My favourites include: Viola, 219 American Bistro, Omar’s Carriage House, Vintage Kitchen, 456 Fish and Trilogy.
- How about an oil change and a wash or detailing for a car, motorcycle or truck at one of the local garages.
- Want to really support the local community, how about a gift certificate for the Five Points Farmers’ Market which supports local farmers, fishermen and other produce makers. The restaurant at the market was recently featured on the Food Channel’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” program for their outstanding, one-of-a-kind meatloaf recipe.
I could go on and on, but hopefully this list will help spark new and fresh gift ideas for the holiday season. As the spirit of giving pours over you, please remember your community, our community and the power that you have to preserve what makes Hampton Roads such a great place in which to live.
I hope you will join me in shopping locally this holiday season.
Jim Carroll is vice president small business for the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and executive director of the Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads, Inc.