As Thanksgiving approaches, the official start to the holiday season is upon us. As many of us are looking toward plans with family and food for Thanksgiving, retailers large and small have been preparing for the holiday shopping season. Online and large brick-and-mortar stores are a well-established part of the annual shopping experience. Our Chamber wants businesses of all sizes and types to flourish in Round Rock.
However, each Thanksgiving season I encourage people to remember to please do at least some of your shopping with locally owned and operated retailers as well. This is important for several reasons, but I find that it matters most because it is “voting with your dollars” about what we want our city to be in the future.
Let me explain with a short story. When I visit different cities, I always ask the hotel staff, or the cab driver, or the event venue, “What is the best place in this entire city to eat?” People are usually very happy to talk about their favorite spot, and it’s often a place a visitor could never find on their own. Where they will send you is usually locally owned, sometimes family operated, and often has been in the community for years. It almost always has a one-of-a-kind food or experience for the diner. These are the kinds of places that not only differentiate cities from others, but really define them. They are points of community pride, not just a business.
Our local retailers are like this too. They are part of what define Round Rock as a special place to live and to work.
As the competitive landscape for consumer goods has changed, successful local retailers have become adept at not simply selling a product – but giving expert advice and organizing gatherings to share experiences with others. Think of the running shoe store that sells the same shoes you can find in other stores, but also organizes couch to 3k training and Saturday running groups. Think of the kitchen goods retailer that organizes cooking classes on Wednesday nights. This builds community and allows us a chance to connect in person with those who are like-minded about our shared passions.
When you shop with them you not only support a small business owner, you also put dollars back into your own economy, supporting jobs in your own community, with businesses that give back to the community through philanthropy. These entrepreneurs are the people that both sponsor and coach youth sports leagues, lead local organizations, and serve on elected councils and appointed boards.
So this year, as you check off your “Naughty and Nice List”, and participate in our modern holiday traditions of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday – my request is this.
Please remember Small Business Saturday, a tradition started by American Express in 2010. For that matter, make it a “local restaurant Monday”, and a “startup Thursday”, and “entrepreneurial Sunday”. These are the stories that we love to tell our visitors about when they come to see us.