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Support small businesses this weekend

November 24, 2018 12:01 am Updated: November 24, 2018 12:01 am

Today is Small Business Saturday, but we are encouraging people in the Twin Counties to shop at local small businesses all weekend.

Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 by American Express as a means for consumers to support struggling small community businesses and avoid the big-box stores and high-end mall shops.

In just eight years, Small Business Saturday stands as one of the busiest shopping times of the year. How significant is the weekend? In some cases, it can make or break a small business.

Small businesses drive much of our economy, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. About 30 million American small businesses account for 54 percent of all domestic sales.

Small businesses provide many benefits to consumers that big-box franchises and traffic-choked, homogenized shopping malls can’t.

Small businesses offer one-of-a-kind products and services. Small businesses offer items that can’t be found anywhere else. This specialization adds character to communities and inspires customer interest. Neighborhood businesses that sell original goods keep money filtering through local economies.

For every $100 spent at a local small business, $48 goes back into the local economy. At a big-box store, the amount that remains locally is just $17, according to the Small Business Administration.

Small businesses offer customers a unique experience. They can provide one-on-one service that is often impossible for large stores. In turn, excellent service encourages customers to build personal connections with the businesses.

Patronizing local businesses helps keep your favorite shops open. It also contributes to the tax base. Keeping money in your town or village helps the community thrive.

Money raised by sales tax means less revenue has to be raised by property taxes. Shopping trips to Main Street are short, which means saving money on gas.

This is important. Buying gas in your community before going on a long trip is another example of shopping local.

Small business owners tend to be more public-spirited, although many big retailers do their part for the community.

Overall, according to the Small Business Administration, small business owners donate more to local charities, invest in local employment and join service clubs. By the way, those employed workers also spend their money locally.

Customer service is often better. Shoppers tend to be loyal to their favorite stores, and they will return again and again to a store they liked the first time around.

If the community is small, store owners and employees probably know their customers by name, so they are obliged to be friendly. The man buying the hammer or the woman purchasing a used book might be neighbors.

Small businesses add vitality and charm. Their owners are often experts in their field and enjoy sharing what they know. Engage a bookshop owner in a conversation about a literary classic or a new bestseller and prepare to be entertained and enlightened.

The excitement of downtown shopping will keep you searching for more — more merchandise, more values, more small-town charm.

Shop local today, all weekend and throughout the holiday season.