In addition to important observances like Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, the month of November contains the Black Friday holiday shopping extravaganza. Falling the day after Black Friday, but receiving perhaps less fanfare, is Small Business Saturday.
The Small Business Saturday concept, however, is gaining steam. The annual event is credited to a campaign launched in 2010 during the Great Recession by American Express to encourage consumers to shop at small businesses.
American Express’s Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey showed that in 2021, the day’s total reported/projected spending among U.S. consumers who shopped at independent retailers and restaurants reached an estimated $23.3 billion.
The spirit of Small Business Saturday is extended to the other 364 days of the year by many across the equipment and event rental industry. Lavinia and Aron Wilder, owners of Independent Rental in Fairbanks, Alaska, are among the community’s most passionate and public cheerleaders for small businesses.
As suggested by the name of their rental company that specializes in homeowner/contractor equipment and event supplies, the Wilders’ business is an independent, family-owned operation, and their zeal for promoting other small, independent businesses in their area year-round can be seen in a special project featured on their Facebook page.
“We called it our ‘52 weeks of supporting local,’” Lavinia says. “We promoted other locally owned family businesses here in the Fairbanks community. I would do a brief video about a business that week, and each day, Monday through Friday, we would post a picture of what they do, and they would donate some gift certificates for us to do a drawing on Friday.”
The remoteness of the Fairbanks area is another factor that Lavinia says draws small businesses together in support of one another through initiatives like Independent Rentals’ “52 weeks of supporting local.”
“We just tried to think of a fun way to get the word out about how important it is to support local, especially for us here in Fairbanks because we are by ourselves. We’re like an island in the middle of the state, and by supporting each other, independent businesses are able to not just survive, but hopefully thrive,” she says.
“It’s being the best example of a family business that we can be,” Lavinia says about why she and her team go to such lengths to support all members of the local independent business community. “Let’s continue to recruit people who are interested in helping fellow community members with projects; let’s help you build that one thing; let’s help you modify this or rejuvenate that. The community is closest to my heart as far as how we want to grow and how we want to support those who are living here with us.”