Archived Story

Celebrating ‘independents’

Published 9:17pm Monday, July 1, 2013

The big national chains tend to get the most attention, but Suffolk’s independently owned businesses always have been the true backbone of the community. Whether they’re mom-and-pop operations, individual proprietorships or even limited liability corporations, Suffolk’s small businesses represent the heart and soul of the city’s economy.

In an effort to highlight those businesses, especially the ones in and around the downtown core, the city is celebrating “Independents Week” this week. Downtown Suffolk’s merchants, restaurants, galleries, museums and venues have joined together to help celebrate by offering in-store promotions, specials and incentives.

Shopping and dining locally — and especially when you support locally owned businesses — supports the local economy like nothing else.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses with fewer than 100 employees account for 99 percent of the nation’s businesses. They employ about 35 percent of American workers. In terms of annual payroll, small employers spend about $1.5 trillion of the $5 trillion paid to private-sector employees each year, and they account for a little more than a quarter of the nation’s $37.8 trillion in private-sector revenues.

For all the influence they have on the nation’s economy, though, small-business owners take a lot of risk when they start their companies. Although about 69 percent of new businesses survive at least two years, there’s about a 50-50 chance that a new business will close its doors within five years.

“When you buy local, you are supporting people’s American dream and directly supporting your local economy,” said Connie Womack and Jeremy Oliver of C-Fit Studio, which is located on North Main Street, putting the whole thing into perspective recently.

One of the best ways to help Suffolk’s small businesses to beat the odds and to help their owners (and their employees) realize their dreams is to support them. And events such as Independents Week give Suffolk residents a great reason to do that, both for the businesses they’ve come to know and love and for some they haven’t yet had the opportunity to get to know.

Folks who visit a participating business and make a purchase, for instance, will receive a bingo-like card to take to other participating businesses. Once they get five stamps in a row, they can turn in the bingo card at the Suffolk Visitor Center, 524 N. Main St., to be entered into a drawing for prizes. So participants will visit new businesses and have a chance to win cool prizes, too.

America celebrates its independence this week. That makes it a great time for Suffolk to celebrate its “independents,” too.

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