This holiday season, perhaps more than ever, the Sierra Small Business Development Center and Sierra Business Council are focusing on appreciating the businesses and organizations that light up our communities. Like the late, great, Leonard Cohen said, “Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
One bright light is Old Town Tap. Through a lot of hard work and community support, Old Town Tap has provided a gathering place for friends and family to come together, share a meal or a cocktail, and celebrate everything from a Tuesday night to an engagement dinner. Sierra SBDC is proud to have provided marketing and start-up consulting to this locally owned, vibrant and delicious restaurant. Another bright light in Truckee is Ela Chapman. After assisting the owner through the expansion and move, we are excited for the shop’s first holiday season on Main Street!
Old Town Tap, Ela Chapman, and the other 3.25 million microbusiness owners in California make up 88% of California’s businesses and form the foundation of our economy. In rural areas, micro-business owners are the only game in town. In California, microbusinesses created 900,000 jobs from 2003 to 2012 – a light in the dark times of the Great Recession, while big businesses lost 200,000.
This holiday season, you can support and strengthen local microbusinesses in two ways: by shopping local, and by contributing to the organizations that provide training and loans that help them succeed, like Sierra Business Council, Truckee Chamber of Commerce, and the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation.
A holiday dollar spent at a local small business circulates in a local economy two-to-three times more than a dollar spent at a national chain, and creates more local jobs. A dollar spent online doesn’t help our local economy at all! In fact, according to a study by the nonprofit Institute for Local Self-Reliance, 149,000 jobs have been lost from one major online retailer alone and this same company has caused more than 135 million square feet of retail space to become vacant. That’s the equivalent of about 700 empty big-box stores plus 22,000 shuttered Main Street businesses. As our small businesses grow, local economies improve, helping to support schools, city services, and sustainable communities.
It’s important to note too that online reviews simply don’t compare to a conversation with a knowledgeable local retailer. In Tahoe, we are lucky to have lots of experts in the outdoor field, like one of SBDC’s favorite local retailers, Tahoe Mountain Sports. Owner Dave Polivy reminds us that while online shopping may seem convenient, spending your dollars at a full service local shop ensures you get the right gear and perfect fit from experts who know your sport and know the area. This guidance is invaluable when selecting those favorite toys we need to play in our beautiful backyard.
In towns like Truckee, Grass Valley, or Tahoe City, where small, locally owned businesses account for a relatively large share of the economy, communities thrive because citizens are more connected to each other, more engaged, and work together to solve problems. The thriving neighborhoods and a vibrant downtown area are great examples of Truckee’s economic vitality due to small business ownership.
This holiday season, let the light shine in. Shop Local!
The mission of the Sierra Small Business Development Center is to create a strong regional economy by providing technical assistance and access to capital for small businesses. Our no-cost direct consulting services are focused on helping you create a feasible business model, assess business opportunities, determine financial needs, identify potential sources of financing, and design an effective strategy to market and grow your business.