The Thanksgiving turkey has barely been devoured and many are already strategizing for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but if you want to find unique gifts, bargains and avoid the crowds, try shopping small businesses.  November 24, 2012 which is the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday. It is a day designed two years ago by American Express to promote shopping where you live, work and play.  Many small businesses will offer sales and specials on that day giving folks an opportunity to see their wares and friendly customer service.

The small mom and pop shops at one time were the fabric of America, but now folks seem to have forgotten them and head to the big retailers, but did you know that many of the big retailers were once kitchen table and, garage type industries? Yes, many of some of the biggest retailers today such as Amazon, Starbucks, Yankee Candle, Mattel and Apple to name a few were once mom and pop shops that was developed and executed right from their garage or kitchen table.  These shops are now all multi-million dollar corporations that started off as a small business.

Everyone has to start somewhere and usually that is as a small business and that doesn’t mean that everyone wants their business to be a multi-million dollar corporation either. Most do not. Many small shop owners are just trying to make a living by offering a quality product and service in their community. These are the shops that support the community. They are the ones who sponsor baseball teams, soccer teams, the high school band fundraiser and sending the kids to Niagara Falls and Washington D.C. Etc. for a school trips. The small business owners are the ones who work together to bring tourism to town, or bring relief to hurting families when tragedy strikes without having a news team publicizing their name all over the air waves. They just step-up to the plate take care of the situation and go back to making a living. They care about you, the customer, and they care about their community. These are the folks who might be cheering right next to you at your child’s sporting event, hosting a local charity event, or raising monies for scholarships, one will see them every day while their out and about. They are a part of the community; they give and give and give, many times they give more than they can afford, they give from the heart but somehow they manage to gives again when the community comes knocking.

They are the businesses on “Main Street,” online and some are even run right from their homes. They will continue to be the fabric of America as long as we support them. The monies these businesses take in ends up right back in the community where one lives. The small business men/women attend local events, they buy groceries, gas, they eat out, generally in their own town and when they do this, the money is recycled back into the community. The money you spend at a small business is feeding a family and supporting a community, not lining executive officers pockets. This is not an anti-big business story; it is about supporting those who support the community they live in. There is a place for the big industries as well as the small ones and they can coexist as long as the public doesn’t forget about the little guy who is trying to eek out a living in their community.

I urge everyone to take a stroll down Main Street, USA this holiday season and see what they have to offer you might be surprised. While you’re out shopping for that special gift for that special someone, consider giving a gift that is from a small business and your one gift will actually become two. A gift to the special someone and the small business you supported.

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Denise Bly has been a correspondent for the Weekly Villager for five years. She also does the public relations for Garrettsville Summerfest and the Garrettsville Area Chamber. In her spare time, she can be found at most local events, especially J.A. Garfield’s, high school and middle school athletic and musical events. When not out and about in the community, she can be found at home reading, sewing, cooking and spending time with her family.