As we dig out the Christmas lights and gear up for the holiday season, the “Big 3” shopping days are right around the corner — Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Now we all know that Black Friday is all about Big – “Big Box” stores, big Doorbuster sales, big crowds and big lines. Being fond of sleep and my sanity, I’ve never experienced the madness of Black Friday but I know for many of you it’s an annual tradition.

On the other hand, there’s Cyber Monday, all about convenience. Just point, click, add to cart, check out, enter shipping info, and you’re done. Amazon’s wheels will be smoking from the gazillion online transactions, all done from the comfort of wherever-you-are and usually with no human interaction.

Then there’s Small Business Saturday, squeezed in between the other two and with an entirely different personality. American Express founded the program in 2010, to help its small business accounts gain customers and increase sales. They chose a weekend that is synonymous with shopping and threw down the gauntlet with this challenge: Shop Local. Shop Small. Support Small Business. Each year, despite the efforts of Big Retail to claim every available consumer dollar, the Saturday after Thanksgiving has grown into a powerful movement.

More and more people are becoming aware of the impact that small businesses have on our communities and the economy. Most have seen the statistics showing that when $100 is spent at a locally owned business, a much larger portion stays in the community than $100 spent at a national chain. Remember, the owners and staffs of these small businesses are also your neighbors, fellow churchgoers and community leaders.  The Seattle Good Business Network reported that small businesses donate 250% more than larger businesses to non-profits and community causes.  Whether it’s a local hardware store, family run restaurant or Front Street boutique—small businesspeople are quick to support local causes and join charitable organizations.

And so people are taking the pledge to Shop Small and backing it up with their wallets. What better day to celebrate the quality, customer service and unique products we can find at our local merchants and small businesses? After a Friday of frenzied bargain hunting for the elusive must-have toy or imported electronics, Small Business Saturday is a refreshing break from the craziness. When you cross the threshold of a local business, you’ll be welcomed and acknowledged as a valuable visitor. You might even be welcomed with the smell of warm cider or the offering of a holiday sweet. The owner is often on the floor, ready to answer questions, locate an item or help you with a custom order. And that is the essence of shopping small- the experience is often as valuable as the product itself.

There’s a reason that places like Easton, outside of Columbus, have gained in popularity. They are designed with attractive shops and outdoor spaces to simulate a charming main street neighborhood. Sound familiar? We’ve got that in Marietta, and in small towns throughout the country. Hulking, generic malls are losing their appeal as people seek a more personal shopping experience. If your image of retail boutiques is one of high prices and limited selection, do yourself a favor and discover what local shops in the Mid-Ohio Valley have to offer. You’ll discover a plethora of quality items – some locally made or artisan crafted – helpful staff, and affordable prices. Shopping small doesn’t have to mean spending more.

This year, Small Business Saturday also kicks off the Hometown Holidays and the day wraps up with the lighted Merry-etta Christmas Parade. This family friendly event is guaranteed to put you in the proper holiday spirit, as you enjoy the festivities with friends and neighbors. After the huge tree is lit and you make your way home, you’ll have the warm satisfaction of doing good and shopping well. 

Best of all, by shopping local you are expressing your support for hard working business people and validating their importance to our communities.Top of Form

*Many local businesses will have coordinated special events or promotions, so be sure to follow their social media to learn about Small Business Saturday happenings!*