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Support our small businesses this Saturday

Nov. 23, 2012 @ 09:14 AM

The holiday shopping season seems to start a little earlier and get a little crazier every year.

Even before Thanksgiving, stores were featuring pre-Black Friday pricing, and customers were camping out to be the first in the door this morning. Some merchants even opened last night.

Today, millions of Americans hit the malls and shopping centers across the country in hopes of checking off their Christmas lists with door-buster bargains. Then Monday, there is another leg of the retail marathon as websites feature their top buys for Cyber Monday.

The National Retail Federation is projecting holiday sales will be up 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion, and for some retailers, about 50 percent of their profits are generated during the holiday season. So it is easy to understand why the next few weeks are critical for mass merchants and the economy.

But it also is important for consumers to remember small business and the impact of all the local shops and services on our regional economy. That is the message behind another promotion for the weekend — Small Business Saturday.

American Express began the effort in 2010, and last year an estimated 100 million people shopped at independently owned small businesses on the day after Black Friday. That is encouraging, and hopefully the response will be even better for the 2012 edition this Saturday.

Not so long ago, most of America’s goods and services were sold through small businesses. But distribution patterns have changed dramatically over the past 50 years, and communities large and small all have a long list of stores and businesses that used to be.

Fortunately, we are seeing a new generation of entrepreneurs, and it makes sense to support them.
Small businesses do much more than generate sales tax. They pay 44 percent of the U.S. private payroll and have generated 65 percent of the net jobs over the past 15 years, according to the Small Business Administration. Small businesses also enrich the local tax base and re-circulate their dollars in the local economy.

Most importantly, many small businesses provide unique services and merchandise, and emphasize personal customer service.

Small businesses are an important part of the fabric of our community. But as shopping patterns change, we have to recognize that we cannot take them for granted. Remember Saturday to support our small stores and service providers — it is part of supporting our community.
 

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