It’s not possible to get everything you need in rural communities, but shopping in a small town often offers unique experiences you cannot find anywhere else.
For a number of small businesses in Colusa County, the Nov. 24 shopping day known as “Small Business Saturday” was the perfect reminder that you don’t have to travel to Yuba City or Chico for everything this holiday season.
Kittle’s Outdoor & Sport Co., Messick Ace Hardware, Davison Drug, Downtown 627, the Pioneer Review, and Blessings Mother and Baby Boutique were just a few stores in Colusa that were open on Small Business Saturday. Some offered refreshments like hot cider and cookies to celebrate the annual tradition.
Small Business Saturday was started in 2010 by American Express to encourage customers to shop local.
“Some of my biggest support comes from owners of other small businesses in Colusa,” said Anne Doyle, owner of Blessings. “They understand what it means to all of us to shop local.”
According to American Express, about 68 cents of every $1 spent stays in the community where purchases are made, which means shopping local generates tax revenue and more money for the city that you live in.
Without those customers shopping local, small stores like Doyle’s wouldn’t be able to thrive. That is why small businesses owners know that offering a unique or competitive edge is key to attracting and retaining customers.
“We have a lot of things in our store that are hard to find anywhere else,” said Tessa Lindquist, at Downtown 627 on Saturday.
Lindquist’s mother, Carolyn Hulbert, opened the unique candy and toy store on Market Street, just after Easter.
Downtown 627 offers retro candy and toys, and is adding new products to its inventory all the time, Lindquist said.
“We are remodeling the kitchen,” she said. “When that is finished, we will have caramel corn and maybe decorated cakes and cookies.”
Despite myths that shopping local costs more, local businesses owners say that is not the case, especially if you factor in gas to travel out of county. And if time is money, then that, too, needs to be factored in.
“Amazon doesn’t offer the lowest price on products anymore, because they use second party vendors from all over,” Doyle said. “If you are looking for savings, then it is important to compare prices.”
With many of Blessings’ specialty products, like Robeez leather infant and toddler shoes, Doyle offers the same shoes below prices of large department stores like Macy’s and Norstrom.
She also has a variety of handmade quilts and children’s clothing on consignment from local artists and seamstresses.
“We have a lot of talent in our community,” Doyle said. “It’s great to be able to showcase that here.”
Emanuella Huerta, of Colusa, who shopped local on Saturday, and said she understands the importance of supporting small businesses.
“We used to have a lot of stores in Colusa, and it was hard to see them close,” she said. “If you don’t support them, they will go away, and then you really miss them.”
While Huerta said she avoids crowds on Black Friday, she does try to balance shopping for Christmas by looking for local deals, shopping online, and maybe one or two trips to Yuba City.
On Saturday, she said she used a coupon for a deep discount on one item at Messick’s, and then picked up a few Christmas presents at Rite Aid.
“A lot of times I find what I want here,” Huerta said.
While Small Business Saturday is the shop local movement’s biggest day, Colusa’s many small business owners said they would have special offers throughout the holiday season.
Since 2010, American Express has steered billions of dollars to independent stores across the country on Small Business Saturday, and has created a broadening awareness of the importance of shopping locally. ■