Gov. Tony Evers proclaimed ‘Shop Small Wisconsin’ will run from Nov. 22 – Dec. 31 for the second consecutive year. The proclamation, issued by the Governor’s Office, encourages Wisconsinites to buy from small and local businesses over the holiday season and celebrate their contributions to their communities.

This announcement comes amid inflation across the nation and concerns from small business owners, who have mostly pessimistic views on their future business growth, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.

Seventy percent of small business owners are raising prices, and 50% of them consider inflation to be their largest problem, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Small business owners on State Street have felt inflation’s effects since Wisconsin consumers are more conscious of what they’re spending because their cost of living has increased, from their food, to their gas, to their home, small business owner Paul Strong said. As a result, Jazzman, Strong’s clothing, shoes and accessories store on State Street, must be aware of their price points and what consumers are willing to spend, Strong said.

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Additionally, Mystery to Me owner Joanne Berg outlined how inflation has affected supply chain issues, which also contributes to higher prices. Mystery to Me, a local bookstore, has been affected by rising costs of paper and its delivery from China, as well as other delivery and delay fees, Berg said.

“A lot of paper and printed books come from China so we deal with shipping issues or things get delayed, but it also makes things more expensive because of export rules and things like that that are changing,” Berg said. “So, book prices have gone up by 50 cents, sometimes $1 – some publishers have raised the price of a hardcover book $3-5.”

Supply issues tend to effect small businesses more than larger retailers, Berg said. Larger retailers are able to buy in bulk, cutting out some outside shipping costs, but small businesses are not, which means they rely on their communities.

Small business owners now must find new ways to compete because inflation is not going to stop. It’s not just the price of a book — it’s also the price of the paper and where the paper is coming from, creating a domino effect, Berg said.

Another issue with larger retailers is that they ship products to consumers, which requires packaging and fuel costs, Strong said. By buying from small businesses, consumers can mitigate those outside costs, while keeping money within the community, Strong said.

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“We all live in the area, we employ people in the area, so the money stays local,” Strong said. “[Shopping small is] also more environmentally friendly compared with the Amazons of the world when they have to ship things with all the packaging and the fuel cost, so by coming to a local business, you’re really helping the community.”

According to Evers’ proclamation, an estimated two-thirds of every dollar spent at small businesses stays within the community. This is mostly due to their hiring of local residents and buying local products and supplies.

Berg echoed these statements, adding that not only does the money going into a small business go back into the community, but the presence of small businesses can help the community as well, Berg said.

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Small businesses improve property values – if a city has a vibrant downtown area that’s not just a strip mall with chain stores, more people will want to spend time there, Berg said.

Jazzman, located on State Street, is a small business surrounded by other small businesses, according to Strong. As a result, Strong hopes State Street shoppers feel pride in shopping small and enjoy visiting the shops nearby.

Berg said as a small business owner, her favorite thing continues to be working within her community and seeing community members interact with each other.

“The number one thing that I get great joy from is having neighbors meet each other in my store and knowing that they want to support me,” Berg said. “If there’s ever a day that I feel tired or wonder why I’m doing this, somebody always seems to say thank you for being here, we really appreciate having your store in our neighborhood.”