Boise Mayor Dave Bieter Shines Light on Locals, Proclaims Nov. 24 'Small Business Saturday' 

click to enlarge Downtown Boise Association Executive Director Lynn Hightower (left) holds Boise Mayor Dave Bieter's Small Business Saturday proclamation.

Harrison Berry

Downtown Boise Association Executive Director Lynn Hightower (left) holds Boise Mayor Dave Bieter's Small Business Saturday proclamation.

The day after Thanksgiving, commonly known as Black Friday, is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Free of the calendrical shackles of Turkey Day, consumers fling open their wallets and spend billions as the season of giving looms. Riding on the coattails of Black Friday, Boise will celebrate the ninth-annual Small Business Saturday, shining a spotlight on Boise's home-grown economic engines.

"It's really a strong reminder for people to support local businesses, because if you don't, they disappear," said City Peanut Shop Owner Dan Balluff, who stood next to Boise Mayor Dave Bieter Nov. 20 inside Rediscovered Books for a Small Business Saturday proclamation ceremony.

Balluff said the potential for small businesses in Boise is strong, but he was still anxious about the growing power of online retailers. As online outlets like Amazon gobble up large shares in local markets like Boise, they could threaten the viability of their brick-and-mortar competitors, potentially shuttering some local businesses and damaging the vibrancy of the city, according to Balluff. With the ability to make purchases at consumers' fingertips, he said it takes "a conscious effort" to buy local, but that effort supports the community and makes Boise vibrant.

"People don't walk away from Boise after a convention and say, 'I had a great cup of coffee at Starbucks," he said.

As part of SBS, shoppers are invited to download and print a passport at the Downtown Boise Association website. Consumers who buy at eight or more items at participating businesses can drop off their "stamped" passports for a chance to win one of six $50 Downtown Boise Gift Cards.

click to enlarge - Small business owners, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and other stakeholders gathered for a group photo at the proclamation of Small Business Saturday. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Small business owners, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and other stakeholders gathered for a group photo at the proclamation of Small Business Saturday.
Organizers of Small Business Saturday point to the positive economic and social impacts the event has had in participating cities. In a report by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and American Express, approximately 108 million people said they shopped or dined at independently owned businesses on SBS, generating nearly $13 billion. It also noted that 70 percent of consumers were aware of SBS, and 90 percent of people surveyed said the event had a positive impact on their communities.

According to Gary Eisenbraun, director of the Boise District office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the story of Boise small business is more complicated than the Manichean dualism between big box stores and online retailers, on the one hand, and mom-and-pop businesses on the other. He observed that many chains across the Treasure Valley employ, and are owned by, locals, and pump loads of money back into the economy.

Nevertheless, Eisenbraun echoed Balluff, saying that consumers have the power to make spending choices that vitiate the places where they live.

"Rather than ordering online, rather than supporting someone in another urban location, they support their community," he said.
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