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To make a big impact, shop local, shop small

Support local businesses on Small Business Saturday

Black Friday will be here in a few days. It will be crazy.

The Friday after Thanksgiving is the beginning of the holiday shopping season. It’s when people get up early, sit in traffic, hunt for a place to park, fight the crowds, and stand in line to buy “doorbusters” that no one in the family may want or use.

That’s why I like Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday, the next day, is when people go out to support the independent shops and restaurants that support their communities throughout the year.

Small business accounts for 99.6 percent of Illinois’ employers, and they employ 45.5 percent of the state’s private sector workforce.

While the chain stores are owned by Wall Street investors, the independent shops and restaurants taking part in Small Business Saturday are owned by and employ our friends and neighbors. They’re the same businesses that support our schools and sports teams and charities throughout the year.

NFIB, the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization, points out that shopping small is a lot different than shopping big. Instead of dealing with harried part-timers hired to help out at the big-box stories over the holidays, you stand a good chance of dealing directly with the owner of the business on Small Business Saturday. You’ll be served by someone who actually cares whether you find the thing you’re looking for and wants you to come back all year long.

Small Business Saturday began in 2010 as a marketing campaign launched by American Express to promote small businesses, but as state director of NFIB in Illinois, I know Small Business Saturday isn’t a gimmick.

NFIB believes that Small Business Saturday is a good reminder to #ShopSmall and support the local businesses that keep our communities strong. It’s also a great way to save money on unique gifts and gift cards to unique businesses your friends and family won’t find at the mall or online.

According to a survey by NFIB and American Express, 108 million shoppers spent $12.9 billion at independently owned businesses on last year’s Small Business Saturday.

The survey said 43 percent of U.S. adults shopped or ate small on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Most of those people said they shopped or ate at more than one independent business.

You wouldn’t think something as modest as Small Business Saturday would have such a major impact, but it does.

When you shop local and shop small, you’re supporting your friends and neighbors. You’re supporting your community. When you shop at a chain store, most of the money goes to some corporate office somewhere, but when you shop on Main Street, most of that money stays on Main Street.

This year, make a difference in your community: Shop local on Small Business Saturday.

Note to readers: Mark Grant of Springfield is state director of NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) in Illinois.

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