ACCORDING TO THE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, in 2019 (the last year for which statistics are available) small businesses accounted for 44 percent of economic activity in the United States. They created two-thirds of new jobs and delivered 43.5 percent of the United States’ gross domestic product. In addition to keeping the economy running, small businesses lead the way in innovation measured by the number of patents issued and they reflect the diversity of the country’s population. Thirty-six percent of small businesses are owned by women, nine percent by veterans and just over 14 percent by people of color.

This issue of Strictly Business offers you a look at some of the small businesses that support our economy and make shopping a more interesting experience in the North Country.

Our cover article introduces you to the North Country Co-op located on Bridge Street in downtown Plattsburgh. Begun as a buying cooperative on a back porch in the city, the Co-op now has a membership of more than 2,800. Its diverse range of products and its dozens of bulk offerings make it a unique place to shop for anyone looking to develop a healthier lifestyle.

Cumberland Bay Market has been a decades long institution on Cumberland Head. Now owned by Stacey and Kris Ambler, it has undergone an incredible transformation in the past two years. New construction, new products, new services. Check it out.

KC Reiter of The Art Works is responsible for many of the dynamic signs throughout the North County. Her creativity and commitment to the art of sign making as well as her practical approach have made her the go-to person for a business looking to improve its image.

The story of how LaPet got its start and how it has endured for decades is one you won’t want to miss. Looking for pet supplies or a cuddly puppy? Make the short trip to Champlain and meet Elizabeth Smith. She will be happy to share her expertise and council.

Corner Stone Book Shop has been part of the downtown Plattsburgh scene for more than 70 years. New owner, Wendy Baker, purchased this literary treasure during the height of the pandemic and is eager to welcome old and new friends.

Another highlight on the downtown scene is Plattsburgh Vintage opened on Brinkerhoff Street by North Country native and SUNY Plattsburgh grad, Mike Parent. His leadership and commitment to the center city, and his cooperation with other small businesses is proving its value.

Our final Shop Small article takes a look at our very own MHAB, a recovery campus and conference center located on the former Air Force Base. The effort has earned accolades for its work with people looking for help to turn their lives around and it is also having a positive economic impact locally.

And then there is our Insight subject, Kim Manion, who has taken her retail experience and is using it to help small businesses navigate the complexities of the various pandemic inspired government programs.

In his article, Colin Read points out that for the Shop Small initiative to be successful, we need not patronize every local business. We only need to support or at least try out the wares of a few in order for our cumulative effort to have an impact.

And then Garry Douglas wraps up this issue with a discussion of the area’s low unemployment rate and the difficulty many businesses are having filling positions.

Small Business Saturday, the brainchild of American Express, was designed to encourage 2010 holiday shoppers to patronize small, local, brick and mortar businesses. Positioned between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in late November, the initiative was a reaction to the economic downturn of the U.S. economy in the late 2000’s. Today the idea of “shop small” has spread far beyond the holidays. At Strictly Business we strongly support the concept. Shop local! Shop small!

…and that’s good for business.