Small Business Saturday 2

Hundreds of people wandered through shops in downtown Missoula during Small Business Saturday in November of 2018.

Shopping small pays dividends at home.

Unlike behemoth online retailers such as Amazon, locally-owned or locally-operated Missoula businesses and their employees pay property taxes, business equipment taxes and income taxes that go to the city, county and state. They also employ people who are financially and personally invested in the community.

That’s why the Downtown Missoula Partnership and the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce are encouraging people to get their holiday gift-buying done in town on Saturday, Nov. 30, for Small Business Saturday.

Linda McCarthy, the executive director of the Downtown Missoula Partnership, said Small Business Saturday was started by American Express in 2010 to encourage communities to “shop small” during the holidays and make it a habit to do so throughout the year.

“Last year, multiple merchants indicated they had more than doubled their previous Small Business Saturday sales,” she said. “This is a clear indicator to us that Missoula believes in supporting small, locally-owned businesses. When our small businesses succeed, the entire economic system of Missoula is strengthened.”

The Partnership will once again host a “shop small headquarters” at the MSO Hub at 140 N. Higgins from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. that Saturday. The term “shopping small” means supporting small stores rather than large retailers. There’ll be free hot cocoa, goodies and a full list of sales and deals at downtown boutiques, shops, restaurants and cafes. Shoppers can also get a “shop small bingo card” to get stamped, and a full card can be entered to win at the headquarters for a chance to win a $100 downtown Missoula gift card.

A study by Michigan State University found that on average, every $100 spent at a locally owned business means $27 will leave the local economy and $73 stays. The same $100 spent at a non-locally-owned business means $57 of that chunk leaves the community. Of course, shopping at a company like Amazon, which is not only not-local but doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar store here, means all $100 would leave the community.

"Small Business Saturday is an excellent opportunity to support the Missoula businesses who give back to the community by sponsoring sports teams, local nonprofit organizations, community events and so much more,” said Kim Latrielle, the president and CEO of the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce. “Money spent at small businesses stays in the community and provides jobs and opportunities for Missoulians. The Chamber supports all of its small business members and encourages the community to shop local on Small Business Saturday."

Small Business Saturday acts as the kickoff to the holiday shopping season in Downtown Missoula, McCarthy said.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive at the Missoula Mercantile Residence Inn by Marriott for the 17th annual Parade of Lights on Saturday, Dec. 7. The Parade of Lights will start at 6 p.m. on the Hip Strip at the corner of Higgins and Fourth, moving to the north end of Higgins for the lighting of the tree, the bonfire and free cocoa, cookies and caroling. The Festival of Trees will be hosted on the sixth floor of the new Stockman Bank building Downtown (321 W. Broadway) Dec. 5-15 and will feature 30 beautifully-decorated holiday trees and wreaths designed by local artists, families and businesses.

“Our downtown, along with Missoula businesses, provides one of the most unique, personal, and festive experiences during the holiday season,” McCarthy said. “We welcome everyone into the heart of Missoula to support our locally-owned businesses.”

On-street parking is always free weekdays after 5 p.m., weekends and all federal holidays, she noted.

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