It’s easy to take for granted the storefronts that line our quaint streets.
Our communities are home to dozens upon dozens of small businesses that keep us — and our many visitors — fed, clothed and nurtured, and without them, our daily lives and our economy would suffer greatly.
Every year since 1963, the president has declared National Small Business Week to honor and raise awareness about the impact of small businesses. This year’s celebration is May 5-11.
According to Jeremy Field of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Pacific Northwest region, there are approximately 609,000 small businesses in Washington state.
He writes, “Beyond the two out of three net new jobs [small businesses] create; and, beyond their employment of half the state’s workforce, small businesses are woven into the fabric of our daily lives. Consider an average day. You wake up in your home that was built by small contractors. The framers, roofers, electricians, plumbers and painters were all likely from local small businesses. Your breakfast – be it the milk, the juice, the cereal, the eggs, the toast, the jam – all came from a farm. … The coffee shop where you meet a client or friend, the playground where you take your children, or the dental office where you get your teeth cleaned all have small business written all over them.”
Two-thirds of the money you spend on-island stays here. For most merchants that money puts food on the table for their families and dresses their children in warm clothes. One hundred dollars spent on San Juan, Orcas or Lopez means a lot to those communities. That same $100 doesn’t have the same effect on the mainland. And the 5 or 10 percent you think you’re saving by buying off island instead goes toward ferry fares and fuel prices.
I am grateful to small business owners for a variety of reasons. Without them, we wouldn’t have a newspaper, and I wouldn’t have a job that I love. We rely on local stores and service providers to advertise offerings in our pages. It is our primary source of income that keeps our newspapers in operation.
I also wouldn’t be able to find unique and cool gifts for my loved ones (and myself!), eat locally grown produce and meat or sit down with a craft cocktail and delicious meal on a Friday night. I am so very delighted to call these islands home, and I swell with pride whenever tourists are in awe of the high-quality items and services we provide here.
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, now is the perfect time to make a dinner reservation or find a gift for your mom right here at home. Join me in honoring the hardworking men and women who have been brave enough to launch their own business on a small rural island. Thank you for all you do, and let’s support our local merchants all year long.