Small Business Saturday Defies Soaking Rain

The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce carried on a tradition on this year’s Small Business Saturday with their “Business in the Brewery”

event at the Fair Winds Brewery in Newington. According to Chamber president Nancy-jo Manney, this is the second year the Chamber held Business in the Brewery where they bring local small businesses to a place that offers good exhibit space and a built-in crowd, and locally brewed craft beer.

“Small Business Saturday is an opportunity for us to celebrate and recognize local small businesses, the backbone of our economy,” said Manney.

Flowers ‘n’ Ferns is a Chamber member from Burke that broke out the hot cider and promotional material for Small Business Saturday, but after a few hours of steady rainfall, Karen Lynn Fountain, the shop owner, headed to the event at the Fair Winds.

Nalls Produce off Beulah Street has been a family owned and operated business for more than 50 years, and honored Small Business Day with a free gift. “Our customers have supported us for decades — saved us from becoming just another housing development — and we want to say thanks,” said Valerie Nalls, the owner’s daughter who has worked there through the years. Cary Nalls started the produce stand when he was just a kid and he continues to work every day. “My children, Blake and Morgan, are now learning how to lend a hand at Nalls too, just like I did when I was a kid,” added Valerie.

Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) said that small businesses are critical to our local economy and “the biggest generators of new jobs.” Herrity supported the recent development of a county effort to support small businesses called BizEx, “which is designed to improve the zoning and permitting process,” Herrity said. The Board of Supervisors just approved a $1 million investment in Revolution, an incubator to help small technology startups.

“I have actually seen a growth in small businesses in Fairfax County from retail to IT and health care,” Herrity said.

Small Business Saturday goes back to 2010 when the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) launched an initiative to support the neighborhood mom and pop stores that have a local angle. “Small businesses provide a character to communities,” said Jack Spirakes, the public information officer for the Washington Metropolitan Area District office of the SBA. In 2017, 108 million consumers shopped at small businesses on Small Business Saturday, spending a combined $12 billion at independent neighborhood retailers and restaurants, the SBA said. Locally, SBA participates in a monthly workshop with the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority aimed at local entrepreneurs.

“It’s a chance for communities to rally around these businesses,” added Carol Wilkerson, an SBA spokesperson out of the national office in Washington, D.C.

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