By Sen. John Thune
Nearly everyone in America is familiar with Black Friday. It’s the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season, and with it often comes an early morning, long lines, and, depending on what you’re looking for, some pretty good deals. Black Friday is nearly synonymous with the big-box retailers that are able to stock their shelves and warehouses and offer the large and well-publicized deals we’re used to seeing on commercials between our favorite TV shows. Not only are shoppers happy with Black Friday deals, but the sales are a boon to the economy, and they help sustain a seasonal workforce who depends on the paycheck.
While Black Friday has cemented its place in American shopping history, it’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving that’s quickly gaining its own notoriety. “Small Business Saturday,” as it’s become known, is a nationwide movement that encourages shoppers who brave the long and sometimes fiercely competitive lines on Black Friday to add Main Street’s small businesses to their holiday shopping routine as well.
You don’t have to look far in South Dakota to find a small business since there are more than 80,000 of them across the state. You likely know someone who works at a small business, or perhaps you work at one yourself. Small businesses represent 96 percent of all businesses in South Dakota, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, and they employ nearly 60 percent of our workforce. It would be an understatement to say small businesses are the backbone of South Dakota’s economy.
South Dakota is full of success stories, and if you’ve ever visited downtown Sioux Falls, I’m sure you’re familiar with one: Chef Chris Hanmer’s CH Patisserie. Chris, who is one of America’s top pastry chefs, opened his shop in 2013, and it’s quickly grown into a must-stop location in Sioux Falls. I’d challenge you to eat only one of his famous macarons – one is never enough. Chris and other small business owners like him not only have successful brick and mortar stores, but they’re also using the power of the Internet to connect with shoppers in other parts of the state and country and grow their business along the way.
Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity to get out and support the local small businesses that are often the first ones to give back and support the communities in which they serve. For many entrepreneurs, to build a successful small business is to build a part of their community. We should celebrate their contributions on this Small Business Saturday and continue to support them every month of the year.