East Tennessee’s small businesses are ready for the holiday season—are you?
For many of us, East Tennessee has become a place we call home, though, but what we may not always recognize is that Knoxville is so great because of the small businesses that keep it running.
When we say “small business,” there must be a small establishment that comes to mind. Maybe a favorite restaurant or a boutique your frequent a lot? Possibly a farmers market you never miss or an artist with their own shop you purchase from? No matter the department, we all inevitably frequent small businesses around the year.
As Jeff Muir, the Director of Communications for the Blount Partnership, puts it, “Small businesses are the backbone of the economy. Its local people serving local people.”
Local organizations such as the Blount Partnership, the Knoxville Chamber, and others work to bolster the community at large, notably through small businesses. That’s true of other more industry specific efforts in the region, such as The Maker City.
Courtney Hendricks is the Director of Maker Initiatives with The Maker City, appointed by the Mayor’s Maker Council, is a community formed to support the creative makers in East TN.
“When you spend money with local businesses, you’re supporting your neighbors, you’re supporting your friends,” Hendricks says. “When you spend money locally, that money stays within the community.” Muir confirms this when he says, “$73 of every $100 spent locally will stay in the community if you’re shopping local.”
Both Muir and Hendricks share the importance of using this holiday season to shop local by explaining how it benefits consumers, the business owners, and the local economy as a whole. You’re also supporting a little bit more. As Hendricks believes, “You’re helping promote not somebody’s business, but their dreams.”
There are more than 400 makers from the Knoxville area that belong to The Maker City directory. This enables a sense of community to form between makers and customers. “It’s fun to get out and interact with your community and see what people are producing locally,” Hendricks explains. “And when you get to gift something that has more feeling behind it, something that is handmade, something that has attention to detail, something that’s sustainable, it’s generally something that will last longer and be cared for more.”
“You’re helping promote not somebody’s business, but their dreams.” Courtney Hendricks
For the business owners, the holiday season is critical to their success. Muir explains that a major percentage of their income and annual sales are accounted to the four to six weeks leading up to Christmas. “What they [small businesses] need is just your commitment to shopping local with them. Even if it’s a small purchase, or even if it’s using them one time a year.”
Hendricks says that shopping local also creates a domino effect: “Most people that sell local also buy local.” The cycle of pouring into the community for those who pour out allows for small businesses to be recognized and aid them in their endeavors.
As Muir puts it, ” Tennessee is one of the most business friendly states in the country. And so we try to make sure that it stays that way.”