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Get local mix into holiday shopping



Take a deep breath and enjoy the relative calm of this plain old weekend because it’s the last one we’ll have for a good while. Thanksgiving is knocking at the door and then the Christmas shopping marathon will be officially under way.

Now’s the time to take stock of what matters. And if you want to add some meaning to the way you spend your time and money during this season, think about next weekend’s observance of Small Business Saturday.

Created in 2010 by American Express to promote the economic impact of mom and pop stores across the country, Small Business Saturday is now recognized as the calm antidote to everything that is frantic about Black Friday. Think of these two days as the yin and yang of holiday shopping.

Doing business with local independent shops has many benefits.

A 2012 business impact study by Civic Economics looked at the way money circulates in a local economy. The study was done in Salt Lake City. When $100 was spent in an independent retail shop, 52 percent of that money circulated locally. But only 14 percent of money spent in a chain store circulated locally.

The impact is even greater for restaurants. The study found that 79 percent of money spent at independent restaurants circulated locally, compared to 30 percent spent in chain restaurants.

The U.S. Small Business Administration estimates that independent business creates two of every three new jobs in the country.

Another interesting take on local business impact was launched during the Great Recession to encourage support for mom and pop shops. Minneapolis-based retail consultant Cinda Baxter asked consumers to make a point of visiting three businesses they would miss if the shops went under. Then Baxter offered this economic statistic: If half of the employed population spent $50 a month in a locally owned business, it would generate $42.6 billion annually.

Baxter’s promotion is called The 3/50 Project, and while the recession is over, the message about local businesses is still meaningful.

We recognize that every community’s economy is a mix of national chain stores and local mom and pops. But it is important to recognize the unique culture of locally owned businesses. This is where a customer counts on personal service and connection to local people.

If it’s been a while since you made a point to seek out local shops, now is the time to do that.



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