Anybody who knows Christine Osborne quickly realizes she is one of the loudest cheerleaders for shopping locally.
That’s why the owner of four local Wonder Works toy shops supports Small Business Saturday so much.
The national movement, now in its third year, is meant to entice people to make at least one holiday purchase at a small business to put money back into the community.
The buy-local initiative aims to steer some of the $586.1 billion spent on holiday items in November and December toward small, locally owned businesses.
“We want to encourage everybody to shop local when they are shopping for the holiday season,” Osborne said. “For every dollar they spend at a local business, it makes $3 for the local economy. For every locally made item bought at a local business, every dollar makes $6. It’s huge, huge, huge. If it wasn’t for the local businesses, the flavor of the city would not be what it is.”
Because of her support for all things local, MSNBC is featuring Osborne and her toy shops all week on short commercials supporting the buy-local movement, and sponsored by American Express.
Osborne expressed gratitude for the network’s exposure, but she gave credit to Lowcountry Local First, the Charleston-based movement behind the buy-local drive.
Small Business Saturday falls within LLF’s Buy Local Month, which started Nov. 15, and its director appreciates the day set aside nationally to campaign for local sales, but she said it’s not enough.
“I think it’s great that they are bringing attention to small businesses, but they need to do it more than one day a year,” said Jamee Haley, executive director of Lowcountry Local First. “With all the attention to national retailers on Black Friday, it’s important to shine the spotlight on the businesses in our community.”
That’s exactly what the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce is doing.
In a partnership with 12 TV stations and 29 radio stations across the state, the group is running 30-second “BuySC” public-service announcements throughout the holiday season encouraging shoppers to support locally-owned merchants.
“There is a big media push for this weekend’s Small Business Saturday,” said Frank Knapp Jr., president and CEO of the Small Business Chamber. “But we want to remind consumers all during this holiday season to shop in their locally owned small businesses.
“We can help grow our own economy by simply shopping with local small business owners. Every dollar spent in a locally owned small business has three times the positive economic impact on the local economy than if that same dollar is spent in a big box store.”
Also backing the effort is the South Carolina branch of the National Federation of Independent Business.
“It’s great to be able to go to Best Buy or some other store and buy things, but it’s even better to go to a local place, know the people there and support the local community,” said Ben Homeyer, state director for the NFIB branch. “Those folks are the fabric of the community and know what it is you like and know who your kids are.”
Small businesses make up 90 percent of the firms in South Carolina, he said.
“Without them, South Carolina would be in trouble,” Homeyer said.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.
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