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Monday, Nov. 9, 2015

Local Forces

Downtown shops offer one-of-a-kind items

Traveling is a wonderful way to experience different places and expand our personal trove of stories.

Almost inevitably, some of those stories will revolve around small businesses. It might involve that hole-in-the-wall Colorado general store five miles from the edge of nowhere with the best ice cream you’ve ever eaten and a National Park Service sign on the door warning what to do in case of bear attack (with helpful handwritten instructions that to survive you just have to run faster than whoever is with you). It could be about that small restaurant in New Mexico that spilled iced tea on your jacket but made up for it with the most fabulous French toast you have ever had the pleasure of inhaling, that funky little Atomic Ranch-retro motel with a 13-inch black-andwhite TV (in every room) or that beer-sticky biker bar in Daytona that only the Sons of Anarchy could love.

Great stories all, and all reasons to return to these places to spend money again and again. That’s the deal about small local businesses. They are different, they are unique, they make memories and they create income. Google “small business facts” and you’ll see that small businesses matter in a great big way. Publications from Forbes to Business Insider have gone deep to present figures that show small businesses are a giant force in the economy.

Small businesses outnumber large ones by nearly 1162 to 1, employ 57 percent of the country’s workforce and create upwards of 65 percent of all new jobs. Holy small business bonanza, Batman, that’s serious stuff!

In 2010, American Express took notice of the importance of small and local and began celebrating these businesses with events on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, a day that is now called Small Business Saturday. It is a day to reconnect and refocus on local; like downtown Shreveport’s ML Bath Company, a 105-year old business; the owner of which will not rest until he has provided a stellar customer experience.

How about Hippie Baby in the Red River District who will handhold new mothers through every detail of cotton diapers and assist in every aspect of new baby care, or Appli-K’s next door, whose owner will create something unique and special just for you, quickly, with a smile, and for far less than you can believe possible. There is the alwaysinteresting Robinson Film Center, site of charming, entertaining and stimulating films that you might never see anywhere else and Abby Singers’ Bistro above that features star chef Tootie Morrison, winner of the first Louisiana Food Prize.

Let’s not forget The Agora Borealis whose owner Katy Larsen had a dream and acted on it and has created another market for the prolific local artist community. All these businesses guarantee to create a connection in a way a big box cannot do, and memories, to boot.

We invite you to connect, experience and make memories of your own downtown on Small Business Saturday. Join us as the celebration of small and local kicks off at 9 a.m. with a giant pancake breakfast at artspace, pick up a shopper passport to win great gifts, enjoy the Family Maker’s Day event for children (and parents) and cheer the return of Pop UP shops at 710 Texas St. These Pop-Up businesses, 14 in all, will be at 710 Texas St. through Dec. 19 to give you a chance to see amazing Polish pottery, try out multiple varieties of tasty goat cheese, learn how a new process will keep clothes and towels fresh and odor-free and allow you to create a memory of your own with a big scoop of Fleur de Crème ice cream. Don’t think that’s possible? Order up a large scoop of salted caramel and give it a try. We’ll look forward to seeing you downtown Nov. 28 and look forward to your ice cream review.

Liz Swaine is the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority.

She can be reached at liz@downtownshreveport.com.


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