Saturday is Small Business Saturday. This is your opportunity to support the small business owners in your community. And just who are these small business owners?
Well, 28 years ago, because of a job transfer, I relocated from Michigan to Merrillville. I didn’t know anyone. A business acquaintance urged me to join the Merrillville Jaycees. It was a great opportunity to meet people by volunteering.
And who else was in the Jaycees? Scott Ribordy (Ribordy Drugs), Cheryl Bakker (Bakker Produce), Nancy Bryan (Bryan’s Florist), Hal Slager (Trico Graphics and now a state representative), Rich Miller (Spitz and Miller Insurance) and Gary Miller (Fagen-Miller Funeral Homes and Ambulance) – to name a few. It’s easy to see what they all have in common – family businesses and community service.
We were all giving back to the communities in which we lived and worked. We supported those who supported us. Merrillville Jaycees built a haunted house every fall and scared hundreds of visitors. Griffith Jaycees sponsored the annual Easter Egg Hunt in Central Park. Young people giving of their time and talent to help their local communities.
Give thanks to the small businesses that distinguish one community from another. But remember, the survival of the small business is dependent on us. They will be sustained only if we continue to give them our patronage.
And those business owners are essential to charitable organizations, frequently serving on boards, and supporting a variety of causes. Did you know that behind many of our nonprofit organizations, there are two or three major local supporters? Ask anyone who raises funds for local nonprofits, they will tell you those independents are their base of support. It is the local entrepreneurs giving of themselves to support the cause and promote their business.
Northwest Indiana has many galas annually, and the majority of support comes from the local businesses by way of sponsorships and donations of items and services for the silent auctions.
Our local business owners have a vested interest in their community. They need the community to thrive for their existence. We need them to thrive because small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and provide the most jobs to residents.
Personally, as a resident of Highland and employer to 700, mostly Hoosiers, we focus our giving to the local nonprofit organizations. We are solicited almost every day by a nonprofit to help their cause.
Often the neighboring states come into Indiana to do business. They take the easy, low-hanging fruit and contribute little to our infrastructure. There is no vested interest on their part. They can leave any time. It is different for the small business owner who makes the region their home.
So stop and shop the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and do your part to help make this Small Business Saturday one of the biggest shopping days of the year for our small businesses and consider dining at one of our unique restaurants and say “thank you” for being here in the region.