evilleBy Jann Wiswall

On this fourth annual Small Business Saturday ®, make your plans to support America’s small businesses and get your holiday shopping done, all while enjoying everything the charming village of Ellicottville and its surrounding area has to offer.

“The importance of shoppers supporting Cattaraugus County’s small businesses on Small Business Saturday and throughout the year is quite simple,” says Lenora Leasure, development specialist and PTAC small business counselor with the Cattaraugus County Department of Economic Development, Planning and Tourism. “Small businesses are locally owned and operated. Supporting them keeps the money right here, bolstering our economy and strengthening our community.”

The Small Business Saturday® campaign was created in 2010 by American Express to encourage Americans to shop at small businesses on the day after the infamous “Black Friday” shopping day.

Small businesses make up 99.7 percent of U.S. employer firms, the U.S. Small Business Administration says. They are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy. Yet small retail businesses brought in less than 10 percent of the $59 billion spent over the course of last year’s Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. The rest was spent at big box stores and large brick-and-mortar and online retailers.

Across the country, American Express, the Small Business Administration, many major organizations and thousands of communities across the country aim to improve on that share of the busiest shopping weekend of the year by helping to get the word out and providing marketing resources to small retailers.

In the end, though, the success of the effort hinges on individuals’ commitment to shop small and shop local.

There are many advantages to shopping small. For one thing, small retailers tend to carry unique products – things you would never find at the mall. That means your gifts are unique and are likely to make a big impression. Small business owners and employees also tend to be more knowledgeable about their inventory and often are more customer service oriented than their counterparts in national chain stores. They also often buy their goods from local sources – meaning what you buy is local too, ensuring that those suppliers also benefit from the “shop small” effort.

All this makes the Ellicottville area the perfect place to shop on November 30 and throughout the holiday season.

With dozens of independently owned shops carrying unique décor, jewelry, clothing, accessories, art, antiques and gifts, there’s something for everybody on your shopping list. The Village’s sports equipment and technical clothing purveyors know more about their products than any big sporting goods retailer you might otherwise visit. Specialty chocolates, natural foods, local beers and wines fit under any tree or menorah. Activities offered by local small businesses make great gifts, too. How about gift certificates for horseback trail rides or art classes or a bowling party?

Plus, the many local restaurants, salons, B&Bs, inns and lodges also offer gift certificates – and make great spots to rest your feet and prepare for another round of shopping!

Jessica Maynard, manager of one of Ellicottville’s newest clothing boutiques, Nouriche, says that there’s something unique about Ellicottville’s small business community. “People really care about the people who live here and those who come to visit.” And, she adds: “The shops have so many unique items in all price ranges – things that are rare, special or hard to find. You can find most of what you need when you come to Ellicottville.”

You’ll also have a lot of fun in the process!