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Our View: Shop smart, shop local

This holiday season, smart shoppers will make it a point to make as many purchases as they can at local small businesses.

Sure, the deals offered by big-box retailers on Black Friday are enticing. The ascendant online retail giants will be making deals on Cyber Monday, available by simply pulling a device out of your pocket or turning on your computer.

But a great percentage of money consumers spend on those days will leave the community, never to return. And the items they buy likely will be mass produced, the same stuff you can get anywhere.

Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday, a sales event that began in 2010. It’s when shoppers are encouraged to visit local merchants in order to find gifts for people on their list.

There are a lot of compelling reasons to visit local retailers on Small Business Saturday, throughout the holiday shopping season and really all year round.

For one, these businesses are often run by our neighbors, and their presence in town is part of what makes the area unique.

A shopper who seeks out local small businesses likely has access to unique offerings. They can get advice from people who likely are experts on what they’re selling, with knowledge and passion for the wares available – that’s probably why they took the risk of opening a store in the first place.

There’s also no better way consumers can support their community and local economy than by shopping at local small businesses.

Numerous economic studies have shown that a far greater percentage of every dollar spent at an independently owned local store stays in the local community than that spent with chain retailers. Almost none of the money spent at online retailers remains in the community.

If the people on your list this holiday season live near you but don’t really “need” anything, consider gift cards at local restaurants or other businesses that you know they enjoy.

Healthy communities depend on healthy economies, and small businesses are the backbone of local economies. They spend their money to employ people, as well as support other local businesses and make charitable donations.

So if you’ll be buying gifts this holiday season, please brave the elements and do your part to support the businesswomen and men in your community.

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