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People who own a bed and breakfast don’t just like people.  To be successful, they must genuinely care about others.  Members of the Seattle Bed and Breakfast Association pool their efforts each year to show that genuine care and concern.   This year, 9 local inns collected new or gently used linens for three local shelters: Mary’s Place, Jubilee Women’s Center and Operation Nightwatch.  Included with the linens were unopened soaps, shampoos and other amenity items from the inns.

Inns are constantly upgrading, remodeling and changing their look.  Donating high end bed linens, towels, robes as well as amenities is a great way to make a difference in the community.  With a little planning and organization, your inn or local association can do the same.  Here are a few ideas:

1.  Set aside a box or two where you can collect items worthy of donation.

2.  Contact local inns or business and form a donation “group”

3.  Choose several local charities who can effectively help others with your “gently” used goods

4.  Set a date for delivery and notify your group.

5.  Remind your group throughout the year and check progress.

6. Get involved.  Go as a group to deliver your items.  Take coffee, muffins, sandwiches and spend time with the people you meet.  Often times a warm cup of coffee, shared with a new friend can mean as much as a warm blanket or fluffy towel.

7.  Finally, get involved.  I know that an innkeeper’s time is limited, but consider sharing a little of you time volunteering at a local charity.  Your time can make a difference.

The Seattle Bed and Breakfast Association makes everyone in their community a priority.  Consider how your inn or association can get involved in your area.

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A day to come together in support of the small businesses we love.    The businesses that are the heartbeat of our communities and local economies.  That day is November 27, 2010—the first-ever Small Business SaturdaySM.                 Facebook, Nov.2010

Everybody knows about Black Friday, considered to be the busiest shopping day of the year and a predictor of the economic climate and success of the shopping season ahead.  Lots of people are out before sun up heading to their favorite malls, shopping centers and chain department stores to snatch up bargains.  Yesterday I stopped at Best Buy to grab a game.   I take great pride in shopping BEFORE Thanksgiving.  (I have never shopped on Black Friday!)  To my surprise there were 2 people camped out..yes literally camped out on the sidewalk in front of the store waiting for the Black Friday opening!  This was Wednesday.  Apparently they were spending THEIR Thanksgiving on a sidewalk in front of a chain electronics store so they could be first in line to spend money!  Seriously?

Although some consider Black Friday fun, I just think of the crowds, the shoving, the lines, the parking…not to mention the news reports of people being literally trampled when the doors open, and I stay home.  Yep, there has never been a deal great enough or an idea creative enough to entice me to shop Thanksgiving weekend…until now.

Enter Small Business Saturday!  Now there is a concept.  I owned a small business and realize that Black Friday and all the $$$’s  go to the chains, big box stores and shopping malls, but not many people consider shopping in pedestrian friendly small town shopping districts or dropping by that small strip center with their favorite home store or boutique.
Again, Enter Small Business Saturday.  This holiday, sponsored by American Express, is gaining momentum.  Check out their Facebook page! FB is offering free ad space to small businesses across the country to promote this new idea.

There are a number of reasons to shop small and local on Small Business Saturday:

1.  They are looking forward to seeing you.  Yes, the person behind the register or greeting you as you enter probably owns the business.  No punching a time clock here.  They depend on you to pay the bills and they are glad you have chosen to shop with them.

2.  No lines.   No lines at the register, no lines in the parking lot, no lines on the highway waiting to exit only to get to wait in the lines in the parking lot and then stand in the  lines at the register! (ok, that’s a lot of lines)

3.  Great deals.  Local business offer great deals on their goods and services, but often they do not have the $$$’s to advertise like the big chains do.  Drop by and check them out.

4.  These are your friends and neighbors.  Small business owners live in your community.  They shop where you shop, their children sit next to yours in school, they attend the same church or civic group….they even do yoga at the same place!  If you don’t know them, stop in and introduce yourself.  They don’t get out much…small business owners work a lot to pay the bills.  Drop by and say hi!

5.  Spread the wealth…or at least the budget!  Do not misunderstand.  I am not against the chains and big box stores….I just believe there is enough to go around.  Every store is unique.  Small business owners started with a unique idea and vision. Check out that holiday shopping list and consider spending some of your hard-earned dollars with people who are an important part of your local community.

For more information on Small Business Saturday check out these links;

First – ever “Small Business Saturday” Gains Momentum by John Titlow, Nov. 24, 2010

AmEx promotes “Small Business Saturday” AP/Yahoo News

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