While lines on Black Friday may look a little different because of social distancing, the weekend after Thanksgiving remains one of the largest retail holidays of the year. COURTESY OF BUSINESS INSIDER.

With the holiday season around the corner, businesses are starting to prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, one of the busiest times in retail.

In 2019 alone shoppers spent $68.9 billion on Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales and another $9.4 billion on Cyber Monday. This season, I ask you to consider shopping Small Business Saturday instead. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the country went into lockdown, small businesses struggled. Many had to decide whether to stay open and risk their health or shut down and risk their financial security.

Between March and September, 97,966 businesses have had to close their doors permanently. As the country looks at another potential lockdown, many may be relying on the holiday season to make up for lost revenue from earlier on this year. Small businesses are our neighbors, they contribute to the community’s culture and economy and many provide one-of-a-kind gifts. 

There’s no question small businesses contribute to local culture. When my friends come to visit me back on the East Coast, I don’t tell them “Oh you have to try this Mickey D’s downtown.” I tell them “You have to try Thrasher’s french fries….and yes, you have to put vinegar and Old Bay on them!” Locally owned, small businesses create community history and draw tourism to help the local economy. 

Thrashers Ocean City

Thrasher’s French Fries has long been a tourist and local favorite on the Ocean City, MD, and Rehoboth Beach, DE, boardwalks – no Summer is complete without them. COURTESY OF THRASHER’S FRENCH FRIES.

Locally owned businesses are also more likely to give back. Many owners are from, or live in, the community their business is in, they are neighbors. They eat at the local diners, their kids are in the local sports or theater programs. They want to see their community thrive, and in return their business. A study showed that for every $100 spent at a local business $68 is given back to the community compared to $43 for national chains. Not to mention they also pay local taxes to support schools and other government programs. Small businesses also create local jobs, although the net job creation differs based on age and size of the company.

Shopping small also supports dreams. Watching my friend start a clothing company from scratch, I remember how happy she was getting her first sale. I remember how much time she would put into packing the clothes to be shipped so that when the customer opened the box, it would be “like opening a gift on Christmas morning.” I remember when she was going through a rough time and she got a big order, she cried because it paid for her groceries that week. Eventually the business paid her way through schooling, but it wasn’t without dedication on her part. She was so thankful for everyone who bought from her because it directly supported her dreams. Follow any small business on social media and you will probably see similar messages from the owner. You don’t get those heartfelt messages from Bezos, whose wealth from March to June rose by $48 billion

Behind every local business is our neighbors. They want their communities to thrive and care for their supporters. This holiday season, as you’re planning the perfect gift for your loved ones, think about giving a gift to your neighbor too in the form of support for their businesses. 

Are you making a concerted effort to shop local this Holiday season? Leave us a comment below to tell us your favorite small businesses and products.