Shop Small and Local - The Missourian: Opinion

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Posted: Saturday, November 30, 2013 5:30 pm

There were long lines outside some of the national retailers who opened their doors Thanksgiving evening.

Hoping to jump-start the holiday shopping season, some big-box retailers didn’t wait for Black Friday to roll out the deals. In fact, some stores were open all day Thanksgiving.

That has prompted a backlash from other retailers and some organizations who called opening on Thanksgiving “disrespectful” to tradition. They argue it is another nail in the coffin of the disintegration of the family. They are forcing their poor employees to work on a cherished holiday.

A spokesperson for Ace Hardware, whose 4,600 stores nationwide were not open, said “Some things are more important than money.”

On cue, representatives from the stores who did open pointed out that they were just giving customers what they wanted — another opportunity to shop. The long lines of shoppers at some stores suggest there may be something to that.

If you don’t care for the shopping frenzy and madness of Black Friday which is now creeping back into Thanksgiving, there is an alternative this weekend — Small Business Saturday.

Created by American Express in 2010 to support small businesses, it has become a marketing event like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Last year, consumers who were aware of the event spent $5.5 billion at independent merchants, according to the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express.

That is a fraction of the total sales that are spent nationally on Black Friday but those dollars are absolutely critical to small, independent businesses.

Just like the giant retailers, 35 to 40 percent of their annual revenue comes from holiday sales. It is often a make or break proposition for mom and pop stores.

In this area, the holiday shopping season is more crucial than ever for the small, locally owned businesses. There is more competition because there are more national chain stores than ever before.

Another factor is more people are shopping online. A Gallup Poll this year found that 53 percent of Americans are very or somewhat likely to do their holiday shopping online, the highest share since Gallup started asking the question in 1998. Cyber Monday sales are expected to break records — again.

If you care about a vibrant retail community, you should support Small Business Saturday the same way you support Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

The bottom line is the bottom line for local businesses. If we don’t support them, they are doomed.

The owners of these stores are not asking you to forsake the big-box retailers, but rather just to give them a shot. Chances are, you will find products you can find in the chain stores and receive better service.

Most importantly, when you shop at local small businesses you are supporting our local economy.

Do yourself and our local communities a favor, check out a local store this Small Business Saturday.

/opinion

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