By Heather Mullinix
Local shops and small businesses are what make one community unique from the next, and also what help to drive the local economy. This past Saturday, local merchants and their unique stores were celebrated with Shop Small Saturday, a program that encourages shopping at the small, independent businesses in a community.
Valorie Douglas Cox, chairman of the Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce retail development committee, said, "Small businesses are at the heart of Cumberland County. As you drive through Crossville and Cumberland County, you will see that most of our businesses are small businesses. Those businesses sustain our economy and provide support to everyone. They provide employment opportunities, as well as contribute to the sales tax base that provides funding to support our schools, police and fire departments."
Created by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses nationwide on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce extended an opportunity for its member chambers across the country to apply for the Shop Small Community designation. The application included a description of the Crossville and Cumberland County economic environment, specifically the contribution of small business owners. Under the terms of the program, a small business is defined as any independently owned business, such as retail store, restaurant or service provider, with less than 25 national locations recognizing less than $10 million in annual sales revenue.
Shopping small throughout the year is a great way to support the local economy. According to a 2003 study by American Independence Business Alliance, out of every $100 spent in a locally owned and operated business, $45 stayed in the local economy. These local shops and service businesses support other local support services, employ local individuals and provide an outlet for locally produced goods. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 97 percent of small businesses in Tennessee employ fewer than 500 employees. These businesses account for 44.9 percent of the private-sector labor force. Top industries for Tennessee small business employment include retail trade, health care and social assistance and other services.
The Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce supported the fourth annual Shop Small Saturday by promoting local shopping destinations on social media, encouraging local shopping with totes of brochures and special deals and awarding 58 $25 American Express gift cards to those they found Shopping Small and supporting local businesses. Don Reed was the winner of a two-night stay to Gaylord Opryland Hotel, which includes tickets to Ice and Lori Morgan's Christmas Shop and dinner.