It’s Morning Edition on KRPS; I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro. It’s often said that small businesses are the backbone of the US economy. According to the latest data from the Chamber of Commerce, there are about 31 million small businesses in the United States. Prior to the pandemic, running a was difficult, but this past year for many has made it even more of a challenge.
On Tuesday, I spoke with Stephanie Garland of the Better Business Bureau, which highlights the impactful ways that small businesses bring communities together. “So, small businesses, a lot of them have faced a crazy amount of challenges. So a lot of people who have been transitioning from them suddenly have their kids home with them. You know many schools have said that it really isn’t safe for us to be in session. But as doors are slowly swinging back open for business, we want to highlight local business owners, and we are hailing them as heroes for surviving this unprecedented time.”
According to research from Facebook and Small Business Roundtable, nearly one-quarter of all the small and medium-sized businesses in the US closed between February and May of last year. That’s between 8 and 9 million businesses. During that time, Stephanie says that small businesses have had to adapt and get creative to continue to find ways to stay in business. “So they’ve done a really great job, many of them through acts of kindness. They are going above and beyond, finding creative ways to still serve consumers and to keep their staff employed, and to keep in business. So what we recommend this Small Business Week is to showcase local pride. So go to small businesses, shop local. If you feel comfortable going in person, this is something that you can do. If you’re still not comfortable doing that, perhaps see if they have a pick-up, or you can just stand curbside and shop from there.”
This time of year in the Four States, there are numerous Farmer’s Markets open for business. According to Stephanie, these markets are a great way to meet and grow more familiar with small businesses, what they offer, and your neighbors who run them. And if you’ve never been to a Farmer’s Market, they offer much more than produce. “So Better Business Bureau does accredit different businesses such as farmers, and grocery stores and florists. So this is something that you can look at at BBB.org and right when you’re at the Farmers Market, you can look for that accredited business seal and see if it’s accredited with us.”
Also, new polling from the BBB shows that 67% of consumers are more likely to shop locally than before the pandemic. Potential customers also showed a higher level of trust when working with a local business; in addition, Stephanie says to showing more concern for customers safety and more quickly adapting to customers needs and expectations. “You know what, we recommend also being open to new ideas. So many small business owners have transitioned to different kinds of online sales, and they’ve found other ways to adapt. So if you don’t have time out and about, this is something that you can do, this week. You can choose to make those buying purchases decisions that perhaps you’d make at big box stores. You can shop locally here in Joplin, Webb City, El Dorado, and the surrounding communities.”
Stephanie Garland of the Better Business Bureau speaking about Small Business Week.