When this Saturday rolls around, you’ll probably still be stuffed from that Thanksgiving meal. If you were brave enough to head out on Black Friday to start your holiday shopping, then you’ll also be over those long lines and be ready for a personal touch when it comes to your purchases. That’s where “Small Business Saturday” comes in.
The U.S. economy is dependent on small businesses – the engine that keeps things humming. The Statistics of U.S. Businesses program tells us that about 5.3 million of the total 5.9 million employer firms in the U.S. in 2015 had fewer than 20 employees.
To support these mom-and-pop shops, Rosindale Village, Mass., in 2010 started the first “Small Business Saturday” in their hamlet an hour south of Boston. The idea was to provide a counterpoint to Black Friday, when big-box stores seem to get the bulk of the nation’s holiday shopping business, whether in store or online.
A movement was started.
Closer to home, MEDA has been investing in people’s lives by fostering Business Development since the nonprofit started way back in 1973. The idea was to help low-income Latinos – many newcomers to this country – build community capital.
This support has spanned the decades, and there now is even a community loan fund, Adelante Fund, that MEDA operates for Bay Area entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their business. Adelante Fund borrowers tend to be those who were turned down at traditional banks.
With reasonably priced commercial spaces ever harder to come by in the Mission, MEDA started El Mercadito inside its Plaza Adelante neighborhood center. Think of El Mercadito as a small-business incubator. There are currently a number of small business in El Mercadito, from print services to clothing shops to a Peruvian restaurant already renowned in the Mission for its ceviche. All started by industrious MEDA Business Development clients (photo) looking to grow their ventures.
One example is Jessica Ganz (photo, third from right), an immigrant from El Salvador. Ganz was going to have lunch in the Mission one day and strolled by Plaza Adelante’s El Mercadito. She spoke with one of the shopkeepers there and was counseled to head upstairs to talk to MEDA’s Business Development team. Ganz then took a free workshop, followed by comprehensive one-on-one coaching.
The result? Express Beauty & Warehouse, which sells items that run the gamut from dresses and jeans to shoes and purses.
Small businesses, such as that started by Ganz, need the community’s support to thrive.
“Small Business Saturday” is the ideal time to stop by El Mercadito, 2301 Mission St. @ 19th, for that special holiday gift … or a little something for yourself.