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Sarah Haston: Shop small on Nov. 25 for community sustainability

Sarah Haston • Updated Nov 21, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Instead of pitching tents, elbowing people in the face and yanking a toy out of another shopper’s hands on Black Friday, those on the hunt for holiday gifts this week might have a more serene shopping experience on Small Business Saturday. 

Small Business Saturday falls on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving – or as some know it – the recovery day after Black Friday. But as Black Friday has crept into Turkey Day, Small Business Saturday offers more mindful shoppers a way to enjoy Thanksgiving and then support the local community two days later. 

What does it actually do for our community when we decide to make the choice to #ShopSmall? It is easy to say that we should shop small businesses to support our local business owners, but there are many other reasons to consider changes to the way you shop that go beyond the holiday season… 

When you are shopping local and dining local you are putting money back into your own community. You are helping your neighbor, who may go on to shop small with another local business.  The ripple effect may take it further than you know.  As we continue to grow, it’s important that we sustain our existing local businesses.  These fixtures of our community shape the culture of our city and have an impact on our community character. As you shop, and dine, I encourage you to #ThinkLebanonFirst.   

Why focus on Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday is nestled in between the major shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday – so it makes sense people and their wallets may want to take a break. Plus, it’s hard to believe local businesses can compete with deals from mega-sellers like Walmart, Macy’s and Amazon. So why should a person embrace the shop small mentality? 

The shop small movement is less about getting the best possible deal and more about supporting the local community. It helps keep cute cafes and mom-and-pop delis from turning into Starbucks and Quiznos. It also keeps money in the community. 

In fact, according to the American Independent Business Alliance, 48 percent of the money spent on purchases at a local independent businesses is re-circulated locally, but less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores stay within the community. 

How to find deals and small businesses to support

Unlike the Black Friday advertising madness, Small Business Saturday deals aren’t necessarily widely distributed ahead of time. Some deals may get shared on social media, through circulars in the mailbox, on websites or just by signage when you shop in stores. 

Some small businesses will also advertise via online ads or by using marketing materials for #ShopSmall sponsored by American Express. Our local hashtag for the offers available this year is #ShopLebanonTN. In Lebanon, we are having a “Shop to Win” contest, and some of our local stores have posters hanging up showing they are participating in the promotion. Just keep in mind Small Business Saturday focuses less on generating massive buzz to draw customers like on Black Friday. Small shop owners aren’t going to release store maps like Walmart or open doors Thursday at 6 p.m. – thus motivating people to skip Thanksgiving dinner entirely in hopes of nabbing a 32-inch Smart TV for $125. 

Don’t be afraid to ask

Those who already have favorite local businesses should check out store websites and social media pages to look for sales. Or just go the old-school route and call to inquire about any Small Business Saturday deals. I encourage to head out Nov. 25 and support our small businesses, think big, #ShopSmall, #DineSmall and #ThinkLebanonFirst this Small Business Saturday.

Sarah Haston is economic development director in Lebanon.

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