This Valentine’s Day, show some love to small businesses

Frances Padilla

We’re fortunate in Colorado to have Loveland, the most perfectly named city ever for Valentine’s Day, as well so many other places in which to celebrate love throughout our state. The majestic beauty, exciting adventure opportunities and plethora of unique shopping and dining options make Colorado a great place to observe the holiday.

Whether you painstakingly make Valentine’s Day plans months in advance or scramble at the last second to find the perfect romantic dinner spot, the perfect gift or even the perfect date night activity, don’t forget to spread the love among our small businesses. Patronizing small shops and restaurants is a great way to show your appreciation for what small businesses bring to your community.

Here are some ideas for Valentine’s Day and some statistics we love.

Hopelessly devoted to dinner: Many couples and families make their way to a special meal on Valentine’s Day. Whether it’s over candlelight or something a little more suited for highchairs and high jinx, small businesses can help set the table and the mood. There are more than 11,000 places to eat and drink in Colorado. And about three-quarters of those businesses are independently owned and operated. They collectively employ more than 119,000 Coloradans — nearly 10 percent of the state work force. They aren’t hard to find. Even a number of chain restaurants are privately owned by Colorado-based companies. Feed your soul and dine with your devoted at a small business.

Candies for your crush: Maybe your sweetheart has a sweet tooth. In addition to just enjoying the taste, the properties of chocolate are rumored to be therapeutic and promote good moods. Who wouldn’t want a big old heart-shaped box full of good mood? There are more than 80 candy companies and sweet suppliers in Colorado, employing a total of 500 Coloradans. The vast majority of these are small businesses, ready to provide chocolate therapy for you and your valentine.

Some enchanted evening, a small business vacay: Valentine’s Day or weekend is a time to drop everything, load up the car and whisk your flame off for an overnight rendezvous. Whether its leaving your worries behind for a Western Slope hot springs resort, a bed and breakfast experience in Salida or maybe just a cozy staycation in your local downtown, small businesses have you covered. There are more than 1,300 hotels, motels, motor inns, bed and breakfasts and other types of overnight lodging in Colorado. These establishments employ a total of more than 46,000 of our fellow citizens. The majority are independently and privately-owned small businesses.

Diamonds for your darling: What list of Valentine’s Day ideas would be complete without mentioning the tried and true gift of the season — jewelry? Whether its sparkling diamond rings, sapphire earrings, personalized lockets or handcrafted bracelets and charms, Valentine’s Day has long been an occasion to give a special gift of jewelry. There are numerous small business jewelers, crafters and makers in Colorado ready to assist you with unique gift ideas. As of 2016, there were more than 300 jewelers across the state employing a total of about 1,700 people. Many retailers are small businesses, too, and more than happy to help you find the right bling for your bestie.

Shaken, stirred, blended or brewed with love: Perhaps you enjoy ending your night with adult libations, toasting to life and love. Colorado has plenty of choices to help clink your glass and wet your whistle. If you fancy a pint of craft brew, there are more than 400 breweries throughout our state, many owned by entrepreneurs. Perhaps you fancy a glass of vino. Consider one of Colorado’s more than 40 wineries found throughout the state, many independently owned and operated. Maybe you’d like to keep it close to home and enjoy the comfort of your local bar or tavern. With more than 700 bars, taverns, nightclubs or drinking establishments throughout the state, these small businesses can help quench your thirst.

It’s all about love: At the U.S. Small Business Administration, we love our mission to support the start, growth and expansion of small businesses. They truly are the backbone of our economy.

Colorado small businesses would love the chance to meet your every Valentine’s Day need. While you are showing some love to your special someone, show some love to small businesses.