Consider local options this holiday season

The “official” holiday shopping season is finally here and with it comes many questions and choices.

What color sweater should I buy for Grandma?

What size slippers does Dad wear?

Cash or credit?

And do I venture out to enjoy the sounds and sights of the season in stores or do I sit on the couch eating ice cream and shopping on my laptop?

All, of course, are logical questions and with today being the day that has traditionally become known as “Small Business Saturday,” another important question invariably also is this:

National retailer or local shops?

Created in 2010, Small Business Saturday is just one of several specially designated holiday shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Of those, Small Business Saturday perhaps may be the most meaningful because it brings an opportunity to help give local entrepreneurs a boost, along with a lift to the local economy, by spending your dollars close to home.

Big companies like Walmart and Amazon have made it easy for shoppers to find deals, including by shopping online from the living room couch. But unquestionably, “easy” can come at a high cost.

Our local retailers, who we value and want to keep, increasingly are seeing how “easy” adversely affects their business. If we want to have physical retailers who employ local residents, brick-and-mortar stores need our support now more than ever.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small business accounts for most of the jobs in this country, and small businesses create most of America’s new jobs.

Remember, local business owners are our friends and neighbors. They share the same feeling of community and, often, the same concerns. These folks arguably are among the most generous supporters of civic groups, local charities, youth sports, schools and virtually every other form of community activity.

And don’t forget that independent area businesses also pay local, county and state taxes, keeping the tax flow community-based. These taxes raise revenue for our schools, parks and services.

As we do each year, we urge you not to wait until after your gifts are purchased to begin thinking about the great opportunities that local businesses offer, and the benefits that come with buying local.

The bottom line here is that many local shopping options exist, and local business owners will be counting on shoppers not just today but throughout the shopping season to make their holiday cheery.

And remember, it takes far more support of local retailers and businesses than just one day, or even one season, to keep our neighborhood businesses alive and thriving. To do that, we must keep them in mind all year.