29 November 2017

S5M-07806 Small Business Saturday 2017

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh): The final item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S5M-07806, in the name of Ash Denham, on small business Saturday 2017. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament recognises that 2 December 2017 will mark the fifth Small Business Saturday, which is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign that aims to highlight small business success and to encourage consumers to “shop local”; understands that, in 2016, customers in Edinburgh and across the country spent £717 million with small businesses on the awareness day, which was a 15% increase on 2015; understands that over 80% of local authorities across the UK actively support the campaign in a variety of ways, from networking events to offering free parking, which means that, for everyone, Small Business Saturday will be happening nearby, and notes the calls on Members to share their support for the campaign on social media, visit small businesses in their area, with media engagement to help raise local consumer awareness, and for them to encourage small businesses to get involved and register on the website,

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Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

First, I thank Ash Denham for the opportunity to talk about small businesses. I was immediately jealous of her access to a sweetie shop. I was six years old before I could go to the sweetie shop without my ration card. [Laughter.] There are four of us in the Parliament for whom that would be true.

As other members do, I use small businesses. On my journey down here this week, I travelled from the station at Inverurie in Gillian Martin’s constituency and dropped in at the Coco Works cafe to have my lunch. I had a lovely toastie with salad and a latte: it was absolutely excellent. It is a tiny little business that serves a real local need—if only in terms of my digestion.

There are other wonderful examples in the north-east of Scotland. I have in my constituency a relatively small fish processing business that smokes salmon. There is nothing uncommon about that, but it buys old whisky barrels from the distilleries and uses the wood from them to smoke the salmon. It is actually possible to tell what brand of whisky the barrels contained on tasting the smoked salmon. That is an excellent initiative.

On Monday, I also visited Granny Bakes on Straight Path in Banff, which has opened only in the past few weeks, to buy éclairs for Gary who works for me in my office in Peterhead. The éclairs will be on his desk tomorrow for his birthday. Those are just some examples. Every one of us will have examples of wonderful entrepreneurship and innovation.

Of course, small business Saturday is not just a one-off: this is the fifth year of the initiative. It is the culmination of efforts by the FSB and others to promote small businesses around the UK. Another part of the programme is the small biz 100—a list of 100 small businesses, one of which is featured in each of the 100 days leading up to the main event. There are many examples of such businesses. My assistant has identified a haberdashery and fabric store in Fochabers in Richard Lochhead’s constituency that is participating.

As we have heard, running a small business is a challenge; it is not an easy thing to do, and it is not something that I have ever done or even contemplated. When I meet small businesspeople, I find that their experience is not such that I would be sucked in. However, small businesses are a vital part of the social and economic infrastructure of many of our communities in the north-east and across Scotland. They are vital cogs in supporting local commerce. The people who work in them are committed to customer service, because if they ain’t, it ain’t gonna work. In the modern world, where so much of our interaction with businesses is relatively abstract or online—there is no human involved—that commitment to customer service makes a real difference.

That said, small businesses, too, are going online. Granny Bakes might have been started only a few weeks ago, but it will go online in the new year. I wish it every success, just as I wish everyone who participates in small business Saturday every success.


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