This holiday shopping season is taking on an added emphasis for small businesses, with many struggling to stay in business due to the pandemic.
We spoke with Kimber Lanning, Founder of “Local First Arizona“, about efforts to give the gift of business to local merchants.
Local First Arizona is a, “statewide nonprofit organization that is working to build a stronger Arizona economy. And we do that by supporting small businesses and developing entrepreneurs, because we believe that a diverse and inclusive economy is a much better way to go,” said Lanning.
She continued by saying, “the idea is or the emphasis is that the money that you spend here stays here.”
And that emphasis of buying local is huge during the current pandemic and the coming holidays. Local First Arizona has supplied a total $11 million to small businesses within Arizona to keep them afloat.
“Many of these small businesses don’t have another source of income. And if we can’t get their businesses through this pandemic to the other side, we’ve got many families who aren’t going to be able to make ends meet and that means they’re going to be descending on an already overcrowded you know, unemployment line and a very difficult job market obviously,” said Lanning.
Because of the pandemic, customers are likely to want to purchase items online. Local First Arizona created an online platform that holds items for many local small businesses. The website is “shop.localfirstaz.com”.
Vendors can opt to be a part of this platform by paying $100 and after that, all of the profits go back to the business. Local First Arizona can also help businesses get professional photos done for their merchandise.
Consumers can also create wishlists on the site for big events like weddings or baby showers.
Local First Arizona is obtaining a lot more funding than they ever expected this year.
“Individual donors are stepping up in standing with small businesses. We’re seeing more policy changes that are advantaging a level playing field so that our small local businesses can compete,” said Lanning.
The pandemic has affected a lot of things, especially small businesses.
“There is no doubt this pandemic is going to be difficult and it’s going to hit the small business sector broadly very hard. But I do think people care and people understand how much of a driver small business is to Arizona’s economy,” said Lanning.