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BLADE GATES: What Makes Small Business, Small Business?

'Small Business Saturday' has become a national phenomenon. As a new employee with the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, I am always hearing the phrase, 'every season is small business season'... and for good reason!

When any business joins the Chamber of Commerce, they invest in the betterment of the community and everyone in it. Everyone thrives when the community thrives, and the Chamber is constantly advocating for them. The Chamber also acts as the Manistee Downtown Development Authority, responsible for providing grant opportunities, and successfully opened the ‘Stee Social District in 2021. 

I can see just how important small businesses are for the community: shopping locally helps small businesses, which invest in the Chamber, and build up our Manistee community. But what do small businesses have to say about themselves? 

This November, I asked Chamber investors who run small businesses across Manistee County the following question: What do you enjoy about being a small business in Manistee County?

Here is what some of them had to say:

Sally Koon, Jackpine Business Center

"In one word... relationships." 

"As a small business owner, it’s never about financial wealth, but we are rich in the relationships we build over the years: our customers, our co-workers, our suppliers, and other business owners."

Kelly Mecham, Clean Lines Tattoo Company LLC

"We get to know our clients by name and with most of our clients we become intertwined in each other lives."

"We can run specials for our community like overdose awareness, suicide prevention, Breast Cancer Awareness and donate back into our community. We have a genuine investment in our community as they do in us."

Pamela Lynch, Coastal Woods Vision

"We get to truly connect with our patients and their families to provide personalized, quality eye care and eyewear."

"The practice has always been connected to the greater community in purposeful ways, and we look forward to many more years of this tradition growing our happy place."

Laura Betts, DVM, Parkdale Veterinary Wellness Center

"Being a small business owner in Manistee brings joy from the deep community connections, the direct impact on the local economy, and the unwavering support from loyal customers who are our community neighbors."

"We can be agile and adaptive. Engaging with Manistee’s unique identity and contributing to its growth makes every day rewarding."

Pamela Schindlbeck, Pamela's Interiors, Design & Construction, Inc.

"We have been in Manistee County since 1998 and love our area because we have become friends with our customers. They have been satisfied with our quality of workmanship by referring their friends and family to us. Our business has grown immensely over the past 25 years."

Emily Pomeroy, Lighthouse Realty

"We enjoy being personally involved in shaping the future of our community by welcoming new families to Manistee County… understanding that buying or selling a home can be a stressful, we commit ourselves to simplifying the process."

"You're not just collaborating with a real estate agency; you're working with a trusted friend and member of this community."

Aliena Broome, La Catrina Mexican Nishinaab

"We enjoy being able to be a part of such a tight-knit community and being able to be involved with the locals."

"As owners, we have a hand in almost every decision that is made. Supporting small businesses helps our community grow and advance as a whole."

Carson Berger, NUVU Fuels

"What we enjoy about being a small business is the ability to show our passion and creativity in our business. We have ability to pivot and change our business based on our communities needs at any time." 

"[Manistee] truly is a group of individual businesses working together to create a community that is greater than any one entity."

Rebecca Herd, Dunegrass

"Supporting small businesses not only contributes economic benefits to our community but charitable and innovative ones as well." 

"While operating a small business has allowed us to gain local support, contributing to community charities has given us the pride of being local."

Deanna Marsh, Northern Spice Company

"We enjoy EVERYTHING about being a small business in Manistee County. The resources of Manistee County lend many great opportunities and opportunity lends way to relationships." 

"Being a small business owner allows us to serve our community through giving back and allows us to frequent all the wonderful businesses Manistee has to offer!"

The answers speak for themselves.

Besides shopping local, how can we support small business season, every season? One can recommend businesses to others, post reviews online, follow these businesses on social media… one can even use manistee county ca$h, accepted at over 30 locally owned business, available at

There is no doubt that small businesses play a crucial role in any community, including our own.

Blade Gates is the Marketing & Communications Specialist for the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, a non-profit 501 C (6) organization. Our mission is to build a dynamic and sustainable organization to serve the Business, Workforce, and Economic Development needs of all in Manistee County. You can contact Gates at 231-723-2575 or