Chicago business owner Trez V. Pugh III, owner of Sip & Savor coffeehouse, received a special visitor on Small Business Saturday this weekend, the day after Black Friday – White House Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett. Without public announcement of her vis- it, Jarrett dropped by the Bronzeville coffeehouse and sat down with an old friend, Shirley Newson, ordering a cup of tea.
Originally created by American Express in 2010 as a way to help small businesses take advantage of one of the most profitable weekends of the year, Small Business Saturday has become recognized as a national
day. Sandwiched between and riding the waves of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, it has built a conscious choice for shoppers to explore and spend with neighborhood establishments.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen President Barack Obama participate in supporting this special day by visiting small businesses related to his love of books. He continued that tradition by dropping by a Washington, D.C. bookstore over the weekend. Whether it’s a bookstore, boutique or record store, supporting small businesses is good for the local economy.
In 2104, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, American Express, and the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, 88 million consumers “shopped small” on the day, up 14.9 percent from the year before.
The survey showed that more than two-thirds of the U.S. population was aware of Small Business Saturday. Additionally, those U.S. consumers who were aware spent nearly $14.3 billion with independent retailers and restaurants on the day – an increase of 2.1 percent from $14 billion in 2013.
At his coffeeshop, although Pugh was given a heads-up on Jarrett’s visit due to Secret Service requirements, most of his customers had no clue the president’s closest advisor would be making a friendly visit; it was quite an honor for him.
“Small Business Saturday proved to be a smashing success,” Pugh said. “It was extremely humbling and exciting at the same time to have Valerie
Jarrett not only visit my coffeehouse but take time to purchase products. She spoke candidly with me about the importance of small businesses and how impressed she was with the look and feel of my business.”
Bronzeville is one of Chicago’s oldest Black communities and sits next door to the Kenwood/Hyde Park community Jarrett still calls her “home away from home.” She feels it is important to support the businesses in neighborhoods and said that the White House recognizes Small Business Saturday as a platform to stimulate economic growth.
“Over the last seven years, the President has taken a range of steps to support small business, from tax credits to access to capital and ensuring that the federal government is
doing what we can through contracts and subcontracts with small business,” Jarrett said. “The purpose for Small Business Saturdays is to show that everybody can support small businesses.
“It’s not just a federal program; it’s for people in the neighborhood who show up and have a wonderful time in a coffeeshop just like this. They should take advantage of that as an opportunity for fellowship and connecting with people.”
Feeling comfortable and at ease, Jarrett smiled, “When I come home and I’m able to sit down, I like to spend time with my old and dear friends in our community. I think it’s really important.” Before leaving, Jarrett took pictures with patrons while the Secret Service patiently waited.