The Occupy movement's protest against Wall Street, big-business excess, and rising economic inequality has not really caught on among small businesses, despite some shared interests. In fact, Occupy Wall Street is dividing small business owners rather than uniting them.
poll resultAn informal poll on Yahoo! Small Business Advisor (left) suggests that a small majority of our readers do not support Occupy Wall Street and the related protests in other cities. The poll results are not statistically sound, so it's probably just safe to conclude that sentiment is split among small-business owners (or people who intend to start a small business).
A survey from email marketing company VerticalResponse reported very similar results. The company, which says most of its customers are small businesses, found that 49 percent support the loosely defined Occupy movement and 47 percent oppose it.
The Occupy Wall Street protest that started on Sept. 17 has become active in over 400 cities, but the message is not always consistent. A lack of central leadership also makes galvanizing widespread support very difficult.
Protests in New York City and Oakland took a toll on small businesses that operate in the vicinity, as this recent article illustrates. Business owner Alanna Rayford of Oakland, for example, was supportive of the cause until Occupy protesters damaged her property.
On Sunday I stopped by Occupy San Francisco, and next door to the camp crowded with tents I met an artisan merchant, Norma Hanley. She sells her jewelry a few days a week on the busy Embarcadero walkway. She also embodies the conflicted view that many small business owners have toward the movement, as she reveals in the video below.