Small Business Saturday was created by American Express in 2010 for the purpose of encouraging people to “shop small” during the holidays. Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday makes a big difference to the bottom line of independently owned businesses, but it has become less about big profits and more about building community and educating shoppers about the importance of supporting the small businesses in their own backyard.

Imagine Forest Park without its small businesses: the friendly coffee shop on the corner, your favorite boutique and the restaurant where you dine with your family every Friday night. Your personal trainer, dog groomer and dance instructor wouldn’t be just around the corner … and you’d likely be heading to a neighboring community to find that special gift for your best friend or for an appointment with your insurance agent.

Impromptu chats with neighbors you run into when you’re out and about along with the friendly relationships you’ve established with local shop owners would be a thing of the past. Community organizations would lose the support of small business owners who donate goods or volunteer their time. 

Although a key factor, we don’t need to talk specific numbers of how much of your money stays locally when spent at small businesses. What we should be talking about is the fact that small businesses are an integral part in our community. Consider this: small business owners typically pay more than minimum wage while providing local jobs; indie businesses create our community’s distinct personality, making Forest Park a unique destination; small business owners tend to buy local, putting more of their profits back into the community; small business owners care about their customers and the products they’re selling them; small businesses encourage entrepreneurship. 

Small business is kind of a big deal both locally and nationally. According to the Small Business Administration census, there are about 30.2 million small businesses in the nation … and those small businesses employ nearly half of U.S. employees. When you spend your money with small businesses, you are supporting jobs in Forest Park and in small towns all across America. 

It’s not just about supporting small businesses on Nov. 30. Shopping small matters all year. If you shifted just 10 percent of what you spend to local businesses, it would make a world of difference. Spread the word and show the neighborhood you’re a small business champion with one of our cool “We Support Small” yard signs. Send me an email at and I’ll hook you up. Get ’em while they last!

Laurie Kokenes is executive director of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce.