Small Business is the American Dream

We all know that we live in difficult times. So many factors we can’t control have such a bearing on our day-to-day lives. The housing market is down, the economy seems to always be on the brink, and the federal government can’t  get anything done. All we have to do is turn on TV, go on-line, or listen to the radio and we are reminded of the dreary state of things. With all of this negativity surrounding us it’s hard to keep a positive attitude. Just five years ago the American Dream was alive and well but today it seems as though it is dead. I’m here to tell you that this is not true. The American Dream is alive and well.

A few short years ago my wife, Kendra, and I were busy creating a business plan to open our own Custom Picture Framing and Portrait Photography business. The housing bubble had just burst like a ripe pimple and the economy was in a death spiral. We knew the risk but were undaunted, if we weren’t moving forward we were in a free fall of fear.  It was something that we both always wanted to do and part of why I love her so much; she always pushes me to “dream big” and “take chances”. This was our time and we were confident we could make it work together. To make along story short we found a store front  at 635 Santa Fe Drive, in the heart of the ArtDistrict in our beautiful Mile High City. We opened the doors in August of 2010 with our  hearts full of hope and a drive for success that burned white-hot. Every foot through the door was a reason to celebrate and every new client was a new friend. The roller-coaster had just begun and we were happy to be in the first car with our hands high. We have had the chance to get to know the other small business owners around us riding that roller-coaster as well and quickly realized that we all shared a similar vision of the American Dream. We also realized how fragile that dream can be on every slow day when the phone doesn’t ring and the door doesn’t open. We know that without the support and nurturing of the community our American Dream will die. I would like to give you all some reasons why you should support the small businesses in your community and keep the American Dream alive.

1. Keep your money in your neighborhood. Studies have proven that locally owned small businesses put up to 70% more money  back into their local communities than chain stores do, per square foot occupied.

2. Make you neighborhood unique. The places that we shop, the places we eat and hang-out define our neighborhoods. The character of our neighborhoods change when chain stores set up shop. It makes us less unique and more like everywhere else.

3. Get the best service. You know your neighbors behind the counter at your local small businesses, and they know you. They take the time to get to know your needs, have a deep knowledge and understanding of the products they are selling so that they can serve you better.

4. Create and keep good jobs. Your locally owned small businesses are the largest source of employment nationally, and are responsible for the vast majority of job growth. Small businesses are less likely to out-source jobs or to leave their communities and take jobs with them.

5. Promote Diversity and healthy competition.  A healthy population of small businesses all selecting products based on the needs of their customers and not a national sales plan, creates a broader range of choices for local consumers.

6. Help protect the environment. Locally owned businesses are more likely to buy locally which requires less transportation. They are also more likely to set up shop in commercial corridors rather than the fringes of communities. This means less sprawl, congestion, habitat loss, and pollution.

7. Support local charities. Local community groups and non-profits receive an average of 350% more support for the locally owned businesses compared to non-locally owned businesses.

8. Better use of tax dollars. Small neighborhood businesses make better use of public services and require a substantially smaller infrastructure investment than huge nationally owned stores entering the community.

9. Stimulate the local economy. If every household in your community redirected just $50-100 dollars of their planned holiday spending to locally owned merchants the positive impact on the local economy would be in the millions. Washington isn’t going to get that done but you can.

10. Invest in your community. Local small business owners and their employees live and work in your community. They are invested with much more than just their dollars.

With the holidays approaching and preparations being made to give thanks and celebrate with our loved ones, I ask you; what will you do to help keep the American Dream alive. On behalf of the small business community in your neighborhood I thank you for your support. Small Business Saturday is November 26th.

Zach Custer.

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