Why Small Business Saturday Matters and How to Celebrate It Every Day!
Saturday, November 25, marks the 13th anniversary of Small Business Saturday. Established in 2013, it has grown significantly since then for the nearly 32 million independent businesses in this country. Last year, consumers spent an estimated $17.9 billion on Small Business Saturday. So, in the words of Anchorman’s Ron Burgundy, it’s “kind of a big deal!”
There are many reasons we at Playper celebrate Small Business Saturday, including that we are very much a small business ourselves. In my career so far, I’ve worked for some pretty big companies (CAA, Lucasfilm, Disney), but Playper is certainly my first true experience of starting and running a small business. And I have to say, while I’ve been blessed with great experiences working with wonderful people at every stop in my career, there’s a special bond for those who unite for what can be the herculean task of achieving small business success.
Personally, I have always been a fan of small businesses, and in fact, Small Business Saturday is something I try to “celebrate” weekly. Whenever there’s something I need or a person I need to buy for, I always try to go to a small business in my community first. I like knowing that the money I spend in those establishments keeps my neighbors and friends in the community employed. Beyond the financial aspect, the advice I can receive or even the casual conversations that inevitably ensue are as valuable as they are enjoyable.
Small Business Beginnings
My appreciation and respect for anyone running a small business with modest means have increased exponentially since starting Playper. My co-founders, Michael Bruza and Susy Christiansen, are both serial entrepreneurs who met when they worked at Disney, and founding Playper has been an exciting experience for them too. For the three of us, the collaborative creative process took years to get to the point of being a viable business, and while turning an idea into a product has been rewarding and downright fun, turning a product into a business has required a whole different toolset.
As creative individuals with extensive backgrounds in entertainment, we seem to have no shortage of good ideas, but we have learned we definitely have a finite amount of time, resources, and finances – something every small business faces. Have we gone down some alleys that ended up being dead ends? Absolutely. But we continue to move forward, learning from any unsuccessful decision and savoring the successful ones.
In addition to Susy and Michael, we’ve pulled together a talented group of people to help along the way, many who, as with any small business, have been pulled from our circle of friends. And one of the most rewarding parts of this process is making new friends along the way – another wonderful byproduct of a small business. Finally, for me, Playper is certainly a family business. My father Brent is a valuable advisor, and my wife Deanna is critically involved behind the scenes like so many small business spouses. And as our own four children fit the demographic of the Playper catalog, they’ve all been great “beta testers” trying out versions of our toys and “models” in the photos and videos for our final products! (That's my whole family dressed up as Curious Kingdom characters in the photo there.) And in addition to just having to pay them in cookies, I’m seeing other advantages. While they are too young to completely understand the headier aspects of the conversations they overhear from my home office and at the dinner table, I imagine they are benefiting from whatever they are absorbing just being around it all. Having a front-row seat in the evolution of “dad’s toys” is certainly an irreplaceable experience and one that I hope stays with them for the rest of their lives.
See You November 24th?
One of the most fulfilling aspects of running a small business is the opportunity for personal growth and development. Entrepreneurship often demands that individuals step outside their comfort zones, take on diverse roles, and acquire new skills. That is certainly something we are all appreciating.
And on Saturday, November 24 (and before and after), all of us here at Playper will be shopping at those small businesses looking for gifts. What is best about the independent small store is discovering that perfect gift you didn’t even know existed. It’s the surprises, the out-of-the-ordinary found on those small business shelves that really make the holidays. And that’s the idea behind Playper, and the inspiration for starting our small businesses: Can we create super fun buildable toys unlike anything on the market that inspire storytelling and hours of fun, laughs, and silliness? We think we have, and hope you agree.
Meanwhile, our families look forward to bumping into you and yours on that Saturday!