As the holidays approach, there are so many things to think about: family plans, meals, cards to mail, trees to decorate, stockings to hang, bags and paper and bows to collect, and gifts to purchase to fill them. But you may not think too much about where the sparkling, holly jolly trappings of the holidays are purchased, but your neighbors want you to think local. With the national campaign “Small Business Saturday” coming up on Saturday, Nov. 30, there’s no better time to visit one of your community’s small, locally-owned business.
It’s no secret that purchasing your gifts from box stores or online stores could save you some tinsel, but buying your gifts and holiday décor from local businesses will really benefit you and your community in the long-run explains Charming Chics Boutique, 229 W. General Screven Way, owner Josie Morrison.
Morrison says purchasing items from local businesses, especially small businesses like hers that has been in operation in Hinesville for over 20 years, puts money back into the local economy. These are the people who also shop in the city, pay city taxes, and participate in community activities. Morrison said, “When you support small businesses, you’re really supporting your community – the children, the schools, the roads. You know your money is going back into your city.”
It’s also about the personal touch. Morrison prides herself on knowing her community and clients - their needs, challenges, and desires. She offers a 10 percent military discount every day because she comes from a military military background and recognizes the sacrifice and struggle of those serving and their families. She said she works with clients, gets to know them, and listens to them to grow a personal relationship that is worth its weight in gold. She says you’ll also find unique items that are rarely restocked and quality items and handmade jewelry.
Just down the road, Polar Sweets, 755 W. Oglethorpe Highway, caters to clients in a different way. Manager Taby Soto said the ice cream shop that specialized in rolled ice cream and boba tea is expanding their menu this winter to include hot drinks like coffee, cocoa, hot boba, and seasonal flavors of ice cream.
“We’re conveniently located in a shopping mall, so mom can go do her Christmas shopping and leave dad and the kids here to have a treat,” Soto said. “And it supports another family this season.”
Small businesses like Charming Chics Boutique and Polar Sweets, and so many others, are the heart of Liberty Chamber of Commerce. CEO Leah Poole said,
“Having and supporting small business is an essential part of any local economy; however, during the holiday season it is easy for the local spots to get lost in the hustle and bustle of multi-million-dollar corporate ad buys. But what most people do not understand is that small business is big business. With roughly 28 million small businesses all over the United States, the dollars brought in by these businesses make up about 54% of all US sales.”
This focus on small businesses lead the Liberty Chamber of Commerce to assist on reinstating the Hinesville Downtown Merchants Association in August 2018, according to Poole. This association is offering a passport to win a basket of prizes. Shoppers who spend at least $5 in five of these businesses (Emma Jane’s; Charming Chics Boutique; Martin Mercantile; Molly Maxine; Thomas Hill Jewelers, VIP Office Furniture and Supply; Southern Sweets; Zum Rosenhof; and Speisekammer German Grocery) are entered to win the basket of prizes.
Owning and operating a small business is a challenge that can be rewarding when owners receive support, said Liberty County Minority Chamber President Sabrina Newby. She believes that support starts with commerce-centered organizations.
“The main thing business owners need is capital and help with marketing,” Newby said. “We try to offer small business owners the resources they need to be successful.”
And that starts with economic development. For Newby, small businesses are essential to the growth of a community, as corporate businesses seem to follow when there is a thriving small business market.
She believes looking for economic development opportunities within the community is essential to economic growth. When you look around Liberty County, there is no lack of corporate business and no shortage of small businesses working side-by-side.
Long County Chamber of Commerce is a volunteer-based chamber, said Sherry Long. And though you won’t find much in the way of boutiques and specialty ice cream shops in Long County, there is a population of approximately 20,000 people in what Long called a “bedroom community,” meaning that most people who live in Long County do not work there or do most of their business there. However, that does not mean there are no small businesses that would benefit from your patronage in this season and throughout the year.
As Small Business Saturday approaches and you begin to prepare for the holidays, your local businesses are close by and ready to serve you and your family.