I don't always fall into the hype and buzz surrounding mainstream promotions or events. Preferring to do my own thing and following causes that seem important has meant that I generally find myself swimming upstream, against the current, in a storm of epic proportions. I didn't set out to be this way, but growing up in a rural and limited environment with few stores and shopping choices I developed a love of familiar, independent, local businesses. And then I married, and moved, and for the first time found myself surrounded by big box stores and an endless array of options and places. It was exciting and new and these stores is where everyone went and so i followed.....but it never really caught on to me. I hated huge malls and enormous all-under-one-roof kind of warehouse, and it was a relief when several years later we relocated and were again in a smaller town where people knew one another and loved their local businesses. I was home again.
These three thoughts that I scribbled down as a graphic are how I've begun to feel about the days surrounding Thanksgiving, because now it matters. Having been on both sides, as a consumer and an owner, I know the labor and caring and dedication which goes into making a small business into a success. I've seen the big stores move in and the small ones struggle and then fade out. I'm aware that we are losing our connections to one another and to the principles which a local economy supports.
Feeling the value in connecting with others made me take notice Small Business Saturday. Even though I was reluctant to connect with what felt like a carefully scripted attempt by a mega-brand, it has undoubtedly placed more focus on the independents.
What started out as a tiny movement by American Express has, just a few years, grown into a million-dollar spending effort. That's nothing to sneeze at and as the shopping small concept became a familiar idea, more and more consumers have been reminded of the local shops right in their neighborhoods.
Tomorrow, make a stand with independent retailers. Choose to keep your money where you live - right in the community and with local business owners. There is value in community and we stand to lose that as some of our long-time local icons close and depart from the landscape of our towns and Main Streets. Put your spending towards supporting the people you know rather than a faceless corporate entity based in another state or possibly even a far-away country.
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