Small Business Saturday means big things for Basalt merchants |

Small Business Saturday means big things for Basalt merchants

As the community around Basalt continues to grow, those who run retail shops see this time of year as a way to connect with their longtime locals and build a rapport with new customers and visitors enjoying the valley.

This weekend, the holiday gift-buying season picks up steam, and shop owners who run small businesses see the next few weeks as a way to showcase their wares and keep the money local and supporting the area economy.

The push behind Small Business Saturday — which started in 2010 as part of an American Express promotion to go in cahoots with Black Friday and Cyber Monday — is to remind consumers that there are reasons to disconnect from the internet or steer clear of the box stores in bigger cities.

“Small Business Saturday, if anything, has brought an awareness to not forget about us,” said Tracy Bennett, who in 1993 opened Midland Shoes in downtown Basalt. “What we’re doing is showing people we’re grateful for our customers.”

Brenda McCartney has been working in Roaring Fork Valley consignment shops for the past 35 years. After a few years in Aspen, she opened Heirlooms Resale in Basalt in 2003.

She feels fortunate to be in the same line of work and after all this time appreciates the personal connection with consumers this time of year even before this weekend became a national push.

“Small Business Saturday for any small community means we get to have an experience with our full-time shoppers,” she said this week as she readied for the holiday push. “The ones coming in who keep us going are our locals. It’s a good time to thank them and have nice discounts, but even more it’s great to see them. And the next few weeks the tourists coming is an added bonus.”

MaCartney and Bennett agree this weekend is important for revenue, but see it more as a kick off a monthlong buying season and a way to help customers find thoughtful gifts during what can be a stressful time.

Small businesses generally are defined as companies with 500 or fewer employees, a model that is as rare in the Roaring Fork Valley as it is nationally.

According to the most recent Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, there were 5.6 million employer firms in the United States in 2016. Of those, 99.7% had fewer than 500 workers, and further, those with fewer than 20 workers made up 89.0%.

Basalt Chamber of Commerce executive director Kris Mattera said the local economy is more of a “micro-business” feel.

“And we are not just mom-and-pop shops but also multi-generational businesses,” Materra said. “Most of the businesses here are rooted here or are regional. What we have here is that personal touch because people working here want to get to know you.”