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It’s easy at this time of year to be captivated by the expensive commercials that lure us into believing all of our holiday wishes will come true if we just spend all of our money at the big corporate box store in our community.

While large businesses are certainly important to our economy, so are the small, family-owned establishments. And with the pandemic still choking the supply pipeline and affecting the costs of services and goods, our small businesses need us now more than ever.

Small businesses don’t typically receive the sizable tax abatements the large corporations often receive when they open. Yet it’s our local businesses that sponsor youth sports teams, donate to fundraisers and invest in their communities without asking for an incentives package in return.

The 12th annual Small Business Saturday takes place this weekend. Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday emphasizes the importance of local retailers to the health of any community.

Of course. we don’t have to limit our support of these businesses to one day a year.

Small and locally owned businesses draw customers to communities. Visitors like to try a local restaurant when they come to town, not a chain they can dine at just about anywhere they go. Revitalized downtowns feature charming local businesses owned and operated by local residents. They are the backbone of a community.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there were 30.7 million small businesses employing almost 60 million people in 2019. Almost half of the nation’s employees worked in a small business that year.

While major corporations are more likely to survive dips in the economy, our small businesses have borne the brunt of the pandemic downturn. A study recently published by Statista showed that 22.9% of small business owners surveyed reported that COVID-19 had made a large, negative impact on their business.

Grants and low-interest loans have helped small-business owners withstand the initial surge of the pandemic, but they need consistent consumer activity to stay around for the long haul. And that’s where we, the consumers, can help.

While it’s easier to shop online and tempting to rack up all the bargains we can at big box retailers, let’s aim to do at least some of our buying this holiday season at small businesses. These establishments are owned and operated by our neighbors, friends and family members. They deserve our support, and you might just find that one-of-a-kind gift your loved one deserves.

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