Senator Jeff Merkley & Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish join Main Street Alliance & Little Boxes Businesses to promote shopping on Main Street this holiday season
Portland, OR - Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) and Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish walked Main Streets in St Johns and NW Portland earlier today talking to small business owners participating in this year’s Little Boxes PDX campaign. Little Boxes PDX was dreamt up just before Thanksgiving in 2011 by jewelry designer and small business owner, Betsy Cross, of betsy & iya. Working with her husband and business partner, Will Cervarich, the vision became a reality that first year with 90 shops participating and thousands of participating shoppers across Portland. Since then, Little Boxes PDX has grown every year.
This year, more than 200 small business owners from all around Portland joined the campaign, offering discounts, donating prizes and helping to support each other throughout the holidays. The spirit of community drives Little Boxes each year, and shoppers who patron their local Main Street businesses experience the things that make small, locally-owned businesses so great—personal customer attention and unique goods and services.Devon, co-owner of hammer + vine; Senator Jeff Merkley; Commissioner Nick Fish
Leaders with The Main Street Alliance of Oregon were pleased to work with Commissioner Fish and Senator Merkley to promote shopping on Main Street this holiday season. Commissioner Fish visited businesses in St Johns. We then met up with Senator Merkley in Goose Hallow at Hammer + Vine, and on to the Alphabet District to Clogs N More, Manor Fine Wares and ended up at Child’s Play Toys.
It’s so important to get the word out about supporting Main Streets across America, that way our customer’s hard earned money can stay where it belongs—in the local community. We’re certainly not alone in promoting shopping at small businesses during the holidays, though.Pat, owner Child's Play Toys; Senator Jeff Merkley; Betsy Cross, co-owner of betsy & iya and co-founder of Little Boxes PDX
Along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, comes Small Business Saturday, a marketing campaign created by American Express. On the surface, it sounds like a good thing. After all, small businesses are the engines of job growth, and shopping small keeps money circulating in the local economy. Every Saturday should be Small Business Saturday.
But, for small business owners, American Express’ marketing campaign is a slap in the face, allowing the Wall Street titan to hitch its PR wagon to the iconic Main Street brand while generating enormous profits on swipe fees from billions in sales, paid for by small businesses and our customers. American Express charges merchants the highest swipe fees – around 3.5% of each transaction – of any credit card company. In addition to charging hefty swipe fees, AmEx typically takes twice as long to settle transactions with merchants as Visa and MasterCard, which can hurt the cash flow of a small business. The dirty secret of credit card rewards programs is that they are paid for by the small business who swipes your card.
After all is said and done, though, there are some great ways to support your local small businesses this holiday. Consumers who want to Shop Main Street this holiday season can:
- Shop in a locally owned business, that way your hard-earned money stays in your community and supports businesses who support their employees and their communities.
- Pay in cash or use a debit card.
This holiday season, remember, shop in small Main Street businesses—support the businesses who support you!
Recent Florida election results have relied on three things; turnout, turnout, and turnout. Engaging low propensity voters is essential in carrying the momentum built during the 2012 Presidential election, and achieving progress in areas important to small business owners. Minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, Medicaid expansion, and corporate tax reform are some of the most important reasons that small business owners paid close attention to this election.
The Florida Main Street Alliance focused their efforts engaging existing members by phone and email and reaching out to over 100 new business owners. Shop owners shared their window and counter space to place posters and flyers stating “This small business votes, and we want you to vote too.” Business owners are trusted members of their community and they can reach hundreds of people throughout the day without leaving their shop.
Placing a sign in their window and a flyer on their counter shows that business owners are involved in the elections and understand how the outcome weighs on their business. Some owners took it a step further though, and engaged their customers individually. Like Abraham Gordon, owner of Gordon’s Be Back Fish House. Abraham said, “If one of my customers comes in on Sunday and tells me they haven’t voted I’ll tell them to eat their lunch, and then go to the polls. If they come in Tuesday and they still haven’t voted I’ll tell them to go to the polls. Your lunch will be here when you get back.” Gordon also committed to drive several friends with him to Souls to the Polls on Sunday, the last day of early voting.
Small business owners also have a personal relationship with their employees and can do their part in encouraging their staff to take part in the election. Ricardo McQueen, owner of Food Health and Environmental Safety said, “If any of my employees haven’t voted by Tuesday I’ll call them into my office and we will talk about how important their right to vote is. I don’t care who they vote for, I just want them to exercise their right as an American.” Ricardo is an immigrant from the Bahamas who recently gained citizenship, and the right to vote.
In Orange County, the 2014 election brought out 34,700 more voters than the 2010 midterm election, which shows an 8% increase in voter participation from just four years ago. Main Street businesses helped get the word out and encouraged their customers and employees to vote. Many will stay engaged by hosting member meetings, attending town halls, and writing letters to the editor and articles for publication. Small business owners vote and they will make sure their elected officials have the best interests of small business at heart.
Main Street Alliance, a national network of state and locally based small business coalitions, announced this week that they are affiliating a state project in Vermont under the leadership of Lindsay DesLauriers.
“We are thrilled to begin working with businesses in Vermont where so many exciting things are on the horizon,” said Main Street Alliance’s national Director, Amanda Ballantyne. “We worked with businesses in support of the Affordable Care Act and we are looking forward to helping elevate the strong support among small business owners in Vermont for Universal Health Care, among other issues.”
The group’s founding members include Liza Cain and Randy George, co-owners of Red Hen Bakery; Melinda Moulton, CEO of Main Street Landing; Trudy Trombley, owner of the Boutique at Stowe Mercantile; Stephanie Hainley, COO at White and Burke Real Estate Investment Advisors and former President of the Burlington Chapter of Business and Professional Women (BPW), and Wayne Nelson, partner at L.N. Consulting. They issued a joint statement saying, “We are excited to welcome Main Street Alliance to Vermont and to help elevate the voice of Vermont’s small businesses. We know that when we support our communities, we support our community businesses and we’re looking forward to making it easier for small businesses to join in these conversations in Montpelier.”
DesLauriers, comes to this role fresh from the 2014 Paid Sick Days Campaign, where she was the Campaign’s Director, employed by Voices for Vermont’s Children. “I’m so happy that I’ll be able to continue to work with the Earned Sick Days Coalition and local business owners to advocate for a standard of paid time in Vermont,” DesLauriers said. “As the Campaign Director for Paid Sick Days, it was my goal to address Vermonters’ real need for a standard of paid time in a way that makes sense for businesses and honors their leadership in policy development. We made a lot of progress last year and we’ll continue to work toward this goal in 2015.”
Main Street Alliance small business members have helped develop, support, and implement economy-boosting paid sick days laws in Seattle, Washington; Portland and Eugene, Oregon; Newark and Jersey City, New Jersey; and New York City.
Personally, DesLauriers grew up working and skiing at Bolton Valley Resort, which was owned and operated by her family until 1997. With both family and professional ties to the business community and the hospitality industry, DesLauriers describes herself as uniquely sympathetic to the challenges and responsibilities borne by small and mid-size businesses in Vermont. “Main Street Alliance is a great fit because both I and the organization as a whole are committed to the core values that will that will support and grow local businesses by supporting and building a robust economy for all Vermonters.”
Main Street Alliance creates opportunities for small business owners to speak for themselves to advance public policies that are good for small businesses, their employees, and the communities they serve. Vermont will be the 12th state affiliate.
As part of our founding work, the Vermont Main Street Alliance Outreach Team has been traveling across the state this summer speaking to hundreds of small business owners about a variety of statewide policies. The small business owners we’ve met have helped us to understand their concerns, they’ve shared their ideas, and they've shown tremendous support for a number of issues that we know will be addressed in the upcoming legislative session – including overwhelming support for the implementation of a universal, publicly-financed healthcare system in Vermont.
The owners we spoke to have shared that a universal healthcare system would remove a cost-burden from employers that many of them simply cannot afford. Even those who are providing insurance still struggle with the knowledge that, under the current system, many of their employees often can’t afford the co-pays and high premiums.
Additionally, many of the small business owners we’ve met have shared that the lack of affordable, high-quality childcare in Vermont has made it difficult to retain employees. They are keenly aware of how hard it is for Vermonters - owners and employees alike – to manage the demands of work with small children to care for. In some areas of our state, it is just plain hard to find reliable, high-quality childcare; where it is available, it’s hard to afford. We are learning that this is much more than an issue impacting low-income working families: the challenges posed by accessing childcare and the need to improve quality impact all of our families – owners and employees alike. Many of the businesses have even signed a statement of support for the efforts of Let’s Grow Kids, a public education campaign focused on the importance of early childhood.
But one of the most interesting and validating themes that has come up unsolicited again and again is that our main street business owners aren’t feeling represented by the larger business chambers – often both at the regional and state level. There is a feeling shared by many that the traditional chambers prioritize the interests of larger businesses, not always understanding the implications of how truly tied to the community locally owned small businesses are. The Vermont Main Street Alliance outreach team has been working hard to make these connections with real Vermont small business owners to help ensure that the voices and interests of small businesses are heard and represented.
On June 12, the Main Street Alliance and the American Sustainable Business Council released the results of new scientific polling of small business owners views on retirement security. On the heels of a Pew study revealing dwindling retirement preparedness for most Americans, the new poll shows that small business owners see threats to business and the economy from the lack of retirement security.
On February 1, the Main Street Alliance, Small Business Majority, and the American Sustainable Business Council released the results of a national poll of small businesses on regulations and job creation.
The poll found that small business owners’ main concern is weak customer demand, not regulations. When asked what would do the most to create jobs, small business owners’ top response was eliminating incentives to move jobs overseas. Reducing regulation came in fifth place. In fact, most small business owners see government standards as an important tool to level the playing field with big business.
Click here to listen to an interview with Jim Houser (owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, Oregon and co-chair of the Main Street Alliance of Oregon).