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KUNC is among the founding partners of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serve the Western states of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Why Small Business Saturday is a boon for Utah, Wyoming and other Mountain West states

Holiday lights in downtown Casper, Wyo.
Adobe Stock
Aerial View of small businesses in downtown Casper, Wyoming.

News brief

What started as an event by American Express a little over ten years ago is now a common tradition across the country. Local businesses are preparing for Small Business Saturday, an event to encourage holiday shopping at brick-and-mortar stores during one of the busiest times of the year.

Small Business Saturday generated over $23 billion last year between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to the American Express 2021 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey. That’s an 18% increase compared to 2020.

This year, 42% of consumers plan to participate, according to a survey conducted by LendingTree. The online lending marketplace ranks Utah No. 1 in its analysis of where small businesses are most prominent. Wyoming, Montana, Nevada and Colorado also rank in the top 15. Roughly 60% of businesses in these states have fewer than five employees.

Aikta Marcoulier works for the U.S. Small Business Administration in the Rocky Mountain Region. She said Small Business Saturday is more important than ever due to the pandemic.

“We’ve seen disasters in Colorado before, but now this is a prolonged disaster that we're dealing with,” she said. “This is extremely critical for us and Colorado businesses to take advantage of this time of year.”

She said this event is not just about finding items that are not in the big box stores – it’s about keeping small businesses alive.

“78% of small businesses…the revenue that they raise during this shopping season will determine if they're going to be functioning next year,” she said.

A survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business in 2018 found that 67 cents of every dollar spent at a local business stays in the community, fostering economic development.

Marcoulier said customers can also support small businesses by shopping on their online stores, buying their gift cards, and promoting them on social media. This can be especially helpful for small businesses that are not in metropolitan areas like Denver or Salt Lake City.

Much of our region is rural, and it's really important to remember that we need to also patron those rural businesses,” she said. “And what's really exciting is most of our many businesses, the pandemic pushed them to be online. So e-commerce and online shopping is part of small business today.”

The U.S. Small Business Administration has free resources and a list of resource partners on its website if businesses need help getting the word out.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

I'm the General Assignment Reporter and Back-Up Host for KUNC, here to keep you up-to-date on news in Northern Colorado — whether I'm out in the field or sitting in the host chair. From city climate policies, to businesses closing, to the creativity of Indigenous people, I'll research what is happening in your backyard and share those stories with you as you go about your day.