With the last wave of summer heat smothering the city, thoughts of snowflakes and Christmas shopping may bring a smile to some sun-burned faces. Each year the Sugarplum Festival at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art is packed with customers looking for the perfect Christmas gift.
Shoppers pass, elbow-to-elbow by tables laden with crocheted head wraps, jewelry made from silverware, handcrafted wood products, jams and jellies, and other glitzy and whimsical crafts and clothing. Why is this event so popular year after year? It is filled with small business owners and local artists who bring their unique talents to the people of St. Joseph.
Locally-owned businesses bring something fresh to the table, whether it is their product, friendly personality, or their genuine interest in supplying the best customer service for friends and neighbors in the community. The gifts of these locally-owned businesses draw in both customers from the city and from out of town.
When visitors come to St. Joseph, they often look for something that represents the region in which they are exploring. They want something unique to the area that they can look at later and recall their visit or vacation. Locally-owned businesses provide this local character and flavor in their products.
Locally-owned businesses thrive in our community for many reasons. In St. Joseph, local businesses find a supportive network through the Chamber of Commerce. They meet at Lunch and Learns, ribbon cuttings, and other networking events and build business partnerships, friendships, and become colleagues in the larger world of small business.
As these small businesses thrive, they strengthen the community. Local businesses allow dollars to remain local and help keep the local economy strong. These locally owned businesses also often hire local workers, allowing families in the community to find jobs in town.
Locally-owned businesses give to one another through their partnerships and often contribute to local causes in helping and strengthening the community in which they live. Businesses like Apple Market and others give food to the Second Harvest Community Food Bank to distribute to St. Joseph families, while other businesses offer free coupons or supplies to help support the need they see in their customers throughout the community. Local businesses also give environmentally as they often shorten the supply chain from manufacturer to consumer.
Higher education opportunities in St. Joseph help small business owners refine their craft and help them become entrepreneurs. Through entrepreneurship, these individuals find personal and economic growth and pass that along to their employees.
As more locally-owned businesses in St. Joseph appear, it encourages others to venture into their own business. Competition between similar local businesses inspires innovation and even helps lower prices for the customer. A greater diversity of products has been seen popping up in the St. Joseph downtown and throughout the city. If you look carefully you’ll find bakeries, home furnishing stores, and other interesting local, small business owners elbowing their way into the busy landscape and finding a place in the hearts of customers.