WASHINGTON (Gray DC) – With a red hat and tightly bound scarf, Doug Abbey stands outside in the cold ready to welcome shoppers to his pop-up store situated along one busy holiday market in downtown Washington D.C. It’s an opportunity to promote his small business, iconsDC, and to his passion all year long.
“It’s called pivoting late in life,” he says about how he got his small business started. “I was actually able to tap into my passion for my city and for architecture. And so, it’s been really kind of joyful, although not as remunerative as I would have liked. But I’m having a good time.”
As holiday shoppers get a good look at big box stores on Black Friday, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) hopes shoppers will turn their attention to ‘Small Business Saturday’ on November 26th.
Each year, the SBA partners with American Express in the outreach effort.
“It’s such a great way for us to lean back into local economies and make sure we’re supporting all their employees and the families that really back these incredible mom and pop’s,” said Isabella Casillas Guzman, U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator. She joined Gray Television’s Washington News Bureau reporter Jamie Bittner at the small business holiday market in in the Penn Quarter neighborhood in downtown.
American Express estimates spending on Small Business Saturday in 2021 hit a record high of $23.3. billion. The National Retail Federation also reports last year holiday sales grew nearly 14% over 2020, totaling $889 billion.
The U.S. Small Business Administration reported nearly 62-million people are employed by the 33-million small businesses nationwide.
Guzman acknowledges as the nation continues the economic recovery from COVID-19, there she are still challenges ahead. Yet, she remains hopeful.
“We saw a cooling off of inflation in the numbers last week and experts expect that to continue. What I’m always shocked about, because I travel around the country with small business owners constantly, there’s such hope and they’re so inspirational in terms of the future. They’re investing in their businesses and they’re counting on consumers to come out big this holiday season,” said Guzman.
Abbey reminds shoppers small businesses can provide variety, selection, and service. Plus he adds, there is a ‘feedback loop’ that helps businesses thrive.
“To be in front of a customer or client and get just sort of real time feedback to find out what works, what they like, what they don’t. You know, you’re not going to get that from big box,” he said.
As for how many people Abbey expects to turnout to the holiday market on Small Business Saturday, he believes it’s hard to say. But he said, “I’m optimistic and I think people want to get out and they want to buy local.”
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