Shaheen: We should make every Saturday a Small Business Saturday

Let's support the stores that make New Hampshire special throughout the year

This Saturday is Small Business Saturday in New Hampshire and across the country. From Manchester to Milwaukee, millions of Americans will take to the sidewalks to support the shops and restaurants that, in many communities, are local institutions.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen

In New Hampshire, Small Business Saturday is particularly special. The Granite State is a small business state, with 135,000 small businesses employing nearly 300,000 workers, half of our private sector workforce. Independently owned restaurants, coffee shops and retail stores are fundamental to our economy and our communities, not only providing critical economic engines for cities and towns across the state, but also serving as cultural hubs and gathering places for friends and neighbors.

As we all know, the small shops that dot our state are part of New Hampshire’s unique charm. If we don’t make a concerted effort to buy local, the franchises and big chains that too often eat up storefronts across our country could easily replace the boutiques and crafts shops that we love. That is why Small Business Saturday is so important. It serves as a reminder that we need to support the stores that make New Hampshire special, during the holidays and throughout the year.

But shopping small is not just about ensuring that we have vibrant downtowns or a strong economy; it is also about supporting the entrepreneurs in our community who take great pride in their work and have an expertise and an attention to detail that the chains and big-box stores often cannot match.

Simply put, New Hampshire small businesses offer high-quality products and services. This is a testament to our small business owners who toil long hours to keep their businesses running and still know your name when you walk in the door.

I will always remember the lessons I learned from the family business my husband and I owned when we first got married. It taught me the challenges of meeting payroll, dealing with regulations, and learning to survive the ups and down in the economy. The experience of running a small business has proven invaluable during my time as governor and now as a member of the Senate, where I serve on the Small Business Committee.

While it may not reach the headlines, I am often encouraged by the willingness of members on both sides of the aisle to work together on policies that support small business owners.

I have worked with both Republicans and Democrats to overcome the partisan gridlock that often grips Washington and pass legislation to expand access to credit for small businesses and to help states promote small business exports to overseas markets. This not only puts more money in the pockets of small business owners in New Hampshire, it also helps them expand and hire, strengthening our economy and providing jobs in the process.

But there is more the federal government could do to support small business owners. We need to cut through unnecessary red tape and expand opportunities for counseling and education through federal-state partnerships like Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and Veteran Business Outreach Centers. We also need to address the crushing burden of student loan debt and protect and expand access to affordable healthcare.

The next generation of entrepreneurs should not be prevented from launching a small business just because they have student loans or are worried about maintaining their health care benefits.

There is a lot of work to do. In the Senate, I will continue to reach across the aisle to build a consensus on legislation to support small business. In New Hampshire, we all have a choice where we spend our hard-earned dollars. On Small Business Saturday, let’s make a point of shopping and dining at local, independently owned small businesses. Better yet, let’s carry this buy-local attitude forward, and try to make every Saturday a Small Business Saturday. Happy shopping!

Jeanne Shaheen is New Hampshire’s senior U.S. senator.

Categories: Government, Opinion, Restaurants, Retail & Tourism