Each year, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend brings with it the concept of excess. Excess food, excess television—and in the last decade—excess materialism.
The true meaning of giving thanks during the holiday has gone increasingly overlooked as shopping fanatics hasten toward superstores that open the night before. Many of these national chain retailers demand their low-wage laborers to work before, during, and after the holiday, causing many to miss time with family due to the greed of consumerism. Informal holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday have rapidly eclipsed Thanksgiving itself by pushing extended store hours, seemingly unbeatable deals, and even an influx of comical commercials to get people into the big box stores.
Though the rush to capitalize (no pun intended) on low prices may seem inevitable, there remains a way to shop with integrity. “Small Business Saturday” is an unofficial shopping holiday that has emerged as a response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Recognized since 2010, Small Business Saturday encourages shoppers to turn toward their communities and patron these establishments as an effort to invigorate local business development. The event was originally sponsored by American Express in conjunction with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to develop a nationwide movement contributing to local economies. Since then, Congress has recognized every Saturday after Thanksgiving with a Small Business national designation.
The reasons to support Small Business Saturday are endless. Economically, there are over 30 million small businesses in the U.S. that employ over 47 percent of nationwide employees. When we support the employees and owners of these businesses, it reinforces job creation and sustainability at the local level. Community-owned businesses also tend to provide more flexibility for their workers, leading to fewer instances of unreasonable work hours and missed holidays with families. Furthermore, local sales keep tax dollars in the community at higher levels than those purchases made at chain stores. Funding for better schools and public services is that much more enhanced.
Supporting local businesses also does the work of community building. In shopping local, consumers provide a market and demand for unique products and services that cannot be found at big-brand retailers. Local goods and services tend to reflect community interests, and have the added touch of personalization. When community members gather or patron local establishments, stronger networks are enhanced and relationship building between customers and businesses is reflected in a way that is rarely found otherwise.
Though Small Business Saturday is an important day of the year to recognize the local businesses in your area, shopping local is always the best way to extend your dollar’s reach. Supporting a civic-based economy in our own backyards allows citizens to participate in developing their communities as holistically as possible. Contributing to a thriving local economy is easy and enjoyable, and does not have to come at the expense of quality.