Ames mayor pushes residents to shop small

Elizabeth Gray

Ames Mayor Ann Campbell and the City Council have been pushing to spread the idea of entrepreneurship and small businesses all throughout the city.

Campbell saw her opportunity during the holidays and encouraged the residents of Ames to shop locally on Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday began as a grassroots effort in 2010 and has now spread throughout the country. The goal is to get residents to shop locally and show their support their small business owners the day after Black Friday, a major day for shopping.

The Main Street Cultural District put forth a huge effort to bring locals down to Main Street for shopping and other family-friendly activities.

The activities included breakfast with Santa, pet photos with Santa, story time with Mrs. Claus, free gift wrapping if you purchased something that day, free swag bags and many more throughout the day.

The purpose was to attract people to a day of fun and to get more foot traffic into local businesses. 

Cindy Hicks, the executive director for the Main Street Cultural District, explained the importance for locals to shop small instead of large corporations.

“When you shop at a small business, 70 percent of the profit stays in your community,” Hicks said.

She stressed that shopping small helps grow the local economy; it puts money right back into the community. The Main Street Cultural District works with small business owners to help maintain their businesses and prevent bankruptcy, as well as help future owners pursue their dream of opening a business.

Take Alison Kanealy for example. She just opened a new cupcake bakery on Main Street on Nov. 14 called Ali Cakes. She said that she has wanted to own a bakery since she was 6 and had been working on business plans for it since she was in college. On Small Business Saturday alone, she sold 140 pounds of cake. 

Even though Kanealy had a successful start, the process was not so easy.

“Everything that could go wrong did go wrong,” Kanealy said.

She had to go through seven different business plans before she found one that could be successful. 

“No matter how hard the struggle is, the harvest is always worth it.” Those words of advice and inspiration came from Kanealy’s father, and she followed them all throughout her journey to open her business. 

“We’re not a kind of community that you want to live in if you’re shopping on Amazon,” Campbell said. “Ames is a place where people want to stop for lunch and get a Christmas present for their grandma.”

Campbell stressed that shopping locally helps the community grow economically as well as culturally, which may lead to more connectivity throughout Ames in the hopes to create an even more welcoming place for businesses. 

Michael Crum, vice president for economic development and industry relations for Iowa State, has been encouraging ISU students to consider entrepreneurship and working for smaller companies.

He explained that every college at Iowa State has entrepreneurship programs for the students who teach students several types of business skills.

Not only do students learn business skills, they also help local businesses all throughout the state of Iowa. The university helps a lot of businesses create new products and business plans by using students to do a lot of the work.

Crum stressed that students not only learn through the classic learning through lectures but they also learn by participating in other great opportunities to grow as a potential entrepreneur, creator or businessperson.

“It’s something that the faculty embraces, and it brings together everything they learn on campus,” Crum said. “Overall, it’s a great learning opportunity.”