Supporting local in the Near West Side for Small Business Saturday

The grand opening of Gray Jett, which is located on Marquette’s campus.

Since the launch of Near West Side Partners, the area has witnessed the emergence of a diverse array of small businesses. Recent additions to the community include Gray Jett, Buffalo Boss, The Academy of Skin & Beauty and several others. The growth of local commercial corridors contributes to the dynamic offerings that enhance the vibrancy and economic development of the area.

The opening of The Academy of Skin & Beauty.

These businesses and entrepreneurs will be celebrated on Saturday, Nov. 25, as part of Small Business Saturday. Following Thanksgiving and Black Friday, Small Business Saturday is an annual reminder to support the local businesses that make the Near West Side unique.

The Near West Side is home to 250 businesses providing jobs for 29,000 people. However, it is not just about the numbers; these businesses are the heartbeat of our community. Small Business Saturday is the perfect time to show extra love to the establishments that make up the local business scene and the hard-working, passionate people who own them.

Part of the multidisciplinary, cross-sector Promoting Assets, Reducing Crime (PARC) initiative focuses on commercial corridor development. Anne Marie Gunn serves as the commercial corridor manager at Near West Side Partners, Inc., which plays a significant role in the PARC initiative alongside the Center for Peacemaking at Marquette University. This Q&A with Gunn dives into the importance of supporting Near West Side businesses and how to support them.

Anne Marie Gunn, far left, is pictured during the opening of Buffalo Boss.

How can people support small businesses in the Near West Side? 

There are so many ways people can support small businesses in the Near West Side! Some ideas include: patron restaurants and retail businesses, purchase gift cards for friends and family and follow and share business’ content on social media to allow for more exposure.

Why is it important to support small businesses in the Near West Side? Additionally, what makes Near West Side businesses unique? 

Supporting small businesses is important no matter what neighborhood you’re in because small businesses are creating local jobs, providing places of connection, and allowing youth (and adults) to see that starting something of your own is possible. I’ve learned firsthand that when small business owners choose the Near West Side as the neighborhood they want to open their business in, they are thinking deeply about the community they are choosing to be an employer and neighbor in. Near West Side businesses are unique because the business owners care about their role in the community, in addition to the customers they are aiming to reach.

How do you believe Small Business Saturday contributes to the overall development of the PARC Commercial Corridors Development Working Team and the community? 

Small Business Saturday is a great reminder for all of us to be thinking about where our dollar goes. Whether you are spending for holiday shopping or simply to show your favorite local business some love, keeping money in the local economy allows for those existing businesses to remain successful, while drawing the attention of other local entrepreneurs who may be scoping out the neighborhood they hope to open in.

Be sure to stay connected with the Near West Side Partners on social media, where they will share information about local businesses to seek out for holiday shopping. Additionally, check out the commercial corridors directory on the Near West Side Partners’ website for a diverse selection of local shops, eateries and service providers to support on this upcoming Small Business Saturday! By actively supporting businesses in the Near West Side of Milwaukee, patrons contribute to fostering local economic growth and sense of community.