Small Business Saturday a chance to support Grand County businesses
Sky-Hi News contributor
Think outside the (gift) box
Here are some unique gifts that support local businesses:
• Massage or spa certificates
• Locally made wine or beer
• Ski or board tune-up
• Guided fishing trip
• Sleigh ride or dog sled ride
• Locally made art or jewelry
• Lift tickets or ski lessons
• Yoga, Pilates, or personal training sessions
• Membership to a local organization or non-profit
• Gift certificate to a favorite restaurant or business
‘Tis the season, but not only for caroling and tree decorating. Nor just for skiing and snowboarding.
‘Tis the season for shopping. And a lot of shopping these days is done with just a few clicks of the mouse.
It’s likely that thousands of brown boxes adorned with a familiar swooping arrow are making their way to post office boxes all over Grand County.
“Absolutely it has increased,” said Julia Holzwarth, officer in charge at the Fraser Post Office. “We’ve seen a lot more online shopping — a lot of Amazon.”
Even though she’s processing all of the boxes coming in, Holzwarth doesn’t shop online herself.
“No — not me. Absolutely not. I don’t believe in it,” she said.
For others who feel the same, this Saturday is a chance to do some shopping here in Grand County.
Nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Businesses Saturday, falling this year on Nov. 29. American Express started Small Business Saturday in 2010 as a way to draw customers offline and back into independently owned brick and mortar stores. The national campaign advertises for all small businesses with television and print ads.
Cathie Hook, executive director of the Granby Chamber of Commerce, doesn’t mind the irony of a large-scale financial corporation sponsoring small businesses.
“Good for American Express — it’s a good campaign for people to be more aware. It’s good for small business. I don’t care who promotes it,” she said.
According to some local business owners, the campaign is working.
Robyn Arnold, owner of Mountain Flair Boutique, a women’s clothing store in Granby, says she has noticed.
“I do see a definite increase on that day. People will come in here and let me know they made a special effort to come on Small Business Saturday,” she said.
Rachel Rayburn, owner of Altitude Jewelry in Cooper Creek Square, is planning a 20 percent off storewide sale for Small Business Saturday. And while she reports that both locals and tourists support her shop, she thinks locals can only be expected to shop in the county if they can find what they need.
“We provide a beautiful selection of jewelry at a reasonable price point to attract people to shop locally instead of online or driving to Denver. We feel that locals prefer to shop locally as long as the products they are looking for are provided,” she said.
Look here first
Hook thinks that shoppers too often dismiss local establishments before they explore what is offered in county.
“There are some things you can’t find in the county. But give the local businesses a chance — really try to find what you need here before you go elsewhere,” she said.
With the recent announcement that the Alco store in Fraser is closing, Hook’s reminder is fitting: “We encourage people to shop local because if you don’t use it, you lose it.”
The Granby Chamber recently sponsored a workshop by Jon Schallert, a Colorado business consultant who specializes in the small, locally owned business brand. According to Hook, he teaches small businesses to emphasize their unique place in a broad marketplace.
Arnold is confident that Mountain Flair provides customers something they can’t get online: personalized service.
“I think more and more people are shopping online,” she said. “But people really like to come here and see me. Maybe it’s because I have that personal relationship with them. I will suggest something they might never try on. They usually step out of their comfort zone here.”
Likewise, Rayburn has a unique line of “Colorado Copper” jewelry that is popular with locals and tourists alike. Since it is handmade in her shop, she knows it’s a product you can’t get elsewhere.
Retailers in the county recognize that they can’t always provide everything on your wish list. But if you can’t support a small business here, maybe support one somewhere. There are opportunities to support small independent businesses online, such as through the site etsey.com.
“Give your money to a real person, not a big corporation. Give it to someone who lives in your community,” Hook said.
If the convenience of online wins out, look for retailers who give back to local organizations through percentage back programs. For example, Amazon.com’s smile program gives 0.05 percent back to a non-profit of your choice. Choose from Grand County organizations like Mountain Pet Rescue, the Blues Society, and Search and Rescue, among others. It is a small percentage of purchases, but share that link with friends and family, that amount grows. It’s an easy way to give back to the community based on something you are doing, anyway.
If you prefer stick with tradition, local businesses are ready for you, too. Watch for Black Friday sales at local establishments on Nov. 28.
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