HELENA — With the holidays fast approaching, many of us are already starting to scour the internet and storefronts for gifts for our loved ones. It can be a stressful time for many, but the pandemic has compounded that stress for many small businesses during the critical holiday shopping season.
At the height of business closures in May 2020 due to the pandemic, 23% of small and medium-sized businesses throughout the United States were closed down. As the virus’ impact has fluctuated since then, it can be hard for many locally-owned mom and pop shops to find their footing again.
As the holiday season accounts for a large portion of many small businesses’ income, now more than ever, local shops require local patrons.
Chelsia Rice, co-owner of Montana Book Co., says that Helena’s community understands this and has worked to keep local downtown businesses alive and thriving,
“And I think the community knows that our downtown businesses and our small businesses throughout Helena are our neighbors, and know that when they shop local they are actively supporting the people who live next door to them.”
Over at Sage and Oats Trading Post down the street, Manager Haley McKnight says that their shop has regulars who support the native-owned business.
“Yeah, we have regulars, which is strange for a gift store. But the Helena Indian Alliance is one of our best customers because, it’s like, ‘here we are.’ You know, we're a native-owned trading post and this is where, you know, they get a lot of their stuff for conferences or just like personal gifts because they see themselves reflected there.”
The US Chamber of Commerce estimates Americans spent 20 billion dollars on the Saturday after Thanksgiving last year, and credit card giant American Express estimates that two thirds of every dollar spent at a small business stays in the local economy.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving has come to be known as Small Business Saturday, a day focused on spending at local and independent retailers.