MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — This week is National Small Business Week, highlighting all of the small, independently-owned businesses that are the backbone of the American economy.

The week kicked off Monday and runs through Friday. It’s a celebration that dates back more than 50 years.

More than 99% of all employer firms in the United States are small businesses, accounting for nearly half of all American workers.

Along the Grand Strand, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce said 65% of its membership has fewer than 10 employees.

Chamber President and CEO Karen Riordan said small businesses in our region have fared better than businesses in other parts of the country because of how much support they get from community members as well as vacationers.

“Being able to feed those small businesses is what really has, I think, been our secret sauce,” Riordan said. “It’s been one of the reasons our economy has been so much more resilient in 2020 and 2021 than other economies and other communities around the country.”

Brent Densford owns Beach RC & Hobbies in Myrtle Beach. As a child he liked racing remote controlled trucks, so when his life was at a “crossroads,” he decided to pour his life’s savings into something he loved.

He opened the store eight years ago with “a lot of hard work, a lot of long hours, a lot of time away from the family,” Densford said.

Densford said the hard work pays off when he sees people with smiles on their faces at his store.

“The most rewarding part is, not only doing what I love every day and coming to work and being happy, but I get to employ people and get to come to work and do stuff that I like,” Densford said. “I think the biggest thing is just making people happy.”

Taking care of customers with what they want and what they need is the best way to succeed as a business, according to Densford. He said his goal is to provide service that keeps people coming back to his store, whether they are local or on vacation.

Cody Alston is on vacation from Ohio. His Tuesday visit to the hobby shop is his second ever. He stopped in last year and decided to do it again, spending time with his RC car on the store’s race track.

Alston said supporting small businesses is crucial.

Right now, I feel like it’s more important than ever,” Alston said. “I feel like small business was hurt by COVID more than anybody else, and I think it’s very important to support them.”

Densford said the pandemic made things more of a challenge, especially hiring and retaining workers, but that people visiting his store have remained positive.

“People have been really generous, really happy, really supportive,” Densford said. “I think the last year and a half has been, I wouldn’t say great for all of us, but I think it’s been a learning experience, and it’ll make us better going forward.”

Densford said business ownership is a risk worth taking.

“I would tell anyone: go out and do it on your own,” Densford said. “Just take that leap and just put 100% into it. You’ll get what you want. You’ve just got put a lot of work in.”