More than 12,000 small businesses call Baltimore City home.
They collectively account for more than 150,000 local jobs, mostly employing Baltimore City residents. With a dwindling population of just under 600,000, it can be inferred that roughly one quarter of all Baltimoreans depend on a small business for their livelihood.
The holiday season (November 1 - December 31) makes up 20-30% of small business yearly retail sales (source). This is the time of the calendar that can normally either make or break a small business. This year, it appears that there will be a lot more breaking than making. By rolling back the dial on lockdown restrictions, small businesses lose the capacity to meet their usual holiday demand that comes from foot traffic and dedicated in-person shopping outings.
Even without a fresh set of coronavirus-induced restrictions, Baltimore's local business community faced an uphill battle for generating usually-lucrative holiday sales. A September 2020 Dynata study found that 62% of respondents planned to do all of their holiday shopping online this year (source), most of which will be gobbled up by Amazon and other corporate e-commerce behemoths.
If this holiday shopping season is going to be dominated by record high levels of e-commerce sales, then we have to do all we can do in order to help our local businesses become digitally competitive.
That is why our team has spent the past week putting into place a three-pronged approach geared towards supporting the local business community during the fast-approaching holiday season. Any donations provided through Givebutter will help to cover the cost of the tech/software, data collection, and salary for our team as we work to make an impact with these initiatives throughout the holidays.
First, we have built a platform called the Buy Local Baltimore Navigator. The aim here is to create a resource for any Baltimore resident to navigate through and learn about the local small businesses which sell the items on their holiday wish list.
Users on the platform can search by store types, products sold, their neighborhoods, and even founder characteristics such as black-owned or women-owned.
We have over 100 of Baltimore's small businesses already on the platform from previous collaborations with our Emergence Baltimore team, but we're actively recruiting more in order to maximize its reach. If you're a small business owner (or know one) who would like to be included on this free resource, just fill out this form.
Second, we have partnered with Equalyze (a Loyola student startup) in order to launch a volunteer matching platform that makes an immediate impact this holiday shopping season. We are actively recruiting volunteers of all skillsets/backgrounds who are interested in sharing some of their time and digital expertise over the next couple of months in order to aid a local business during crunch time.
Businesses who fill out the Buy Local Navigator form will be able to opt-in to this program by answering a few additional questions towards the end, identifying their biggest areas of need and the skills required to help out.
On the volunteer side, Baltimoreans will be able to sign up to provide assistance to a local business owner who is trying their best in order to maximize sales for the holiday season. The types of possible initiatives include web design, social media marketing, photography/videography, and e-commerce sales campaign strategy.
Last but not least, we've relaunched our BMore Baskets initiative, which sells gifts made of local products within the Baltimore small business community
Over the summer, members of our Emergence Baltimore team spearheaded this not-for-profit initiative which brought in over $7,000 in sales to the local business community. With COVID restrictions being rescinded, we paused the initiative in July. But with the new wave upon us - and in the midst of the most crucial sales season for most small businesses - we've revived the initiative to meet the demand.
BMore Baskets is an incredible and easy way to show your appreciation to your family, friends, and employees while supporting the local businesses that make Baltimore so special.
Get Your Gifts through the BMore Baskets website
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