Keep the Iowa Standard Going!
For nearly a decade, Small Business Saturday has helped small business owners compete with national chains and online retailers. Small Business Saturday has helped grow the small business movement, boosting not only holiday shopping but also year-round support. Tami Vetter, owner of The Rustic Corner in Charles City, is preparing for a busy day. This year, Small Business Saturday is November 30th.
By the numbers: It’s estimated that Small Business Saturday has generated a total of $103 billion since the event began in 2010. In 2018, an NFIB survey found that Small Business Saturday generated a record-high $17.8 billion in sales from 104 million consumers. And 96 percent of consumers who shopped on Small Business Saturday said it made them want to shop small year-round.
This year, Small Business Saturday is expected to be even greater. The National Retail Federation forecasts holiday retail sales will increase between 3.8 and 4.2 percent over last year. Nationwide, shoppers are expected to spend as much as $730 billion at small businesses across the country.
The reason why: A strong economy and recent tax cuts. NFIB’s October Small Business Economic Trend report showed a strong reading: the Optimism Index rose 0.6 points to 102.4, historically a very solid reading. Job creation rose from September with small business owners continued to hire and create jobs.
Recent federal tax cuts spearheaded by President Trump mean small business owners have more money to hire new workers and give raises – giving consumers more money to spend. Those are benefits that create more revenue for communities and keep the economy humming along.
A recent NFIB survey found that job creation among small business broke the 45-year record in February with a net addition of 0.52 workers per firm. The previous record was in May 1998 at 0.51 workers per firm. Small businesses create two out of three net new jobs in the private sector, and about half of America’s workforce either works for or owns a small business.
Trickle down affect: The entrepreneurs behind the counter give your community its character. They sponsor local football teams and put ads in local church fliers. They give back.
“It’s important to shop small because you’re not only helping that small business—you’re helping the community the business is in,” says Matt Everson, NFIB’s Iowa State Director. “When more people shop their local bakery, dog groomer, and shoe shop, we all see the benefits. There’s no better way to return that support than investing your holiday shopping dollars in the continued success of small businesses.”
In Charles City, Tami Vetter is preparing for increased sales on Small Business Saturday. She counts on the shopping holiday to not only boot her bottom line, but bring in new customers who will hopefully become repeat customers. Here’s her story.
“Let’s just give it a whirl.” Tami Vetter admits she had no clue what she was doing when she opened her gift boutique in 2007. All she knew was that the only gift shop in Charles City shut down, and there was a need in the market. Tami jumped at the opportunity and quickly figured things out. By the end of her first year in business, The Rustic Corner had tripled in size.
Tami Vetter crafting at her small business, The Rustic Corner.
Don’t let Tami fool you. She’s no dummy. The Rustic Corner is actually her second small business. The north Iowa entrepreneur started Working Women, Inc. out of fear she would lose her job at Greenie’s Dog Treats. Tami basically side hustled her full-time job, serving as a private contractor for companies who made pet food products. She filed paperwork, developed UPC codes and processed coupons and rebates and even provided marketing support. Five years later, Tami’s fear came true: Greenie’s sold to candy maker Mars Inc. and Tami was out of work.
With more time on her hands, Tami transformed the loss of one job into a new opportunity. Right away, it was a hit. The modest owner credits her success to an existing customer base, but Tami is also talented at predicting what her customer’s will buy. The Rustic Corner started small: a place for local artists to sell their crafts. However, it quickly expanded. Tami added craft supplies and then school supplies. Then it was Hallmark cards, painting classes and a fashion boutique. Next week, the store will offer fiber art classes for the first time. Always keeping an eye on the latest retail trends, Tami added the offering, which teaches crafters how to make a chucky throw blanket on a loom, after she saw how popular it was in Texas. So popular, in fact, that Tami couldn’t buy the loom anywhere. So, she made it herself.
Crafters paint during one of Tami’s “Uncorked” classes at The Rustic Corner.
When Tami sees a need she steps up and fills it. In May, a tornado ravaged the Floyd County Fairgrounds, destroying four buildings. Tami partnered up with the owner of Iowa Love and sold specially designed t-shirts at The Rustic Corner. The two decided to donate $10 from the sale of every t-shirt for the following 10 days. Their efforts were a giant success: they raised $1580 for cleanup and rebuilding efforts at the fairgrounds.
Tami, third from left, presents Any Staudt, far right, President of the Floyd County Fair, with a $1500 check to repair buildings damaged by a tornado.
Tami is proud of what she does for not only her community, but the entire state of Iowa. She should be. Tami’s boutique is housed in a historic old building in downtown Charles City. It’s the only business on Main Street that takes up two floors: 10,000 square feet filled with merchandise. Tami only had one rule: it’s not so cluttered that “there’s no room to dance.” In 2015, The Rustic Corner was named the best business in Iowa by Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Main Street Iowa program. The program honors the efforts of people like Tami, who work day-in and day-out to revitalize Iowa’s downtowns – the heart and soul of communities across the state.
Inside The Rustic Corner.
Tami boasts about her award to everyone who will listen – as she should. “Iowans do a terrible job of promoting themselves,” chuckled Tami, who voiced frustration that visitors to Charles City can’t buy a single thing with the town’s name on it. She later remedied that by printing Rustic Corner t-shirts that included Charles City’s iconic water tower. Tami knows the value of promotion – click on The Rustic Corner’s website and the first thing you read is “NAMED BEST BUSINESS IN IOWA.”
Maybe that’s the reason she’s so successful.