With one week until Christmas, many shoppers across Colorado are still looking for the perfect gifts. And local businesses hope they’ll shop small.
“Every penny you spend at a local store stays in our local economy,” said Dave Roggeman, who owns the shop Abstract in Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace, where all of the stores are independently run and locally owned.
"We kind of try to think outside of the box a little bit with our designs,” Roggeman said. “We work with local artists to create awesome graphics on T-shirts, posters, prints, pins, stickers — that sort of stuff.”
As an artist himself, Roggeman said he looks for unique designs celebrating Colorado, from a beastly Blucifer to a Colfax Avenue riff on Dr. Seuss’ Lorax.
But even with products you can’t get anywhere else, Roggeman said “it's getting harder and harder being a small business competing with Amazon and those sorts of places.”
That’s why this year, President Joe Biden’s administration launched the first-ever “Season of Small Business” to encourage shopping small.
Small businesses make up 40% of the United States’ economic output, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
“When 99.5% of all private businesses in Colorado are small, the importance of supporting them with our patronage cannot be overstated or undervalued,” said Colorado’s SBA District Director Frances Padilla in an announcement of the Season of Small Business campaign.
But even with so many small businesses in the state, it can be tough staying open.
In Denver’s River North Art District neighborhood, better known as RiNo, “with gentrification, with the prices of rent exploding, it makes it hard for the small businesses to come and stay in a prominent location where they can get that foot traffic,” said Divine Ramazani, the creative director for Green Spaces Market, a community collective bringing together small shops selling local goods.
Ramazani said Green Spaces houses a variety of businesses.
“We have candles, we have flowers, we have exotic snacks. We have a CBD apothecary here,” she said.
There’s also art, clothing and plants for sale. Beyond the products, Ramazani said what “makes the businesses so extraordinary” is the commitment to putting community first.
"We want creatives just to come in and have a place where you're surrounded by plants, are surrounded by good people,” Ramazani said.