If it sounds like we’re harping every year to “shop local,” it’s because we are. That’s because we know what it’s like to be a small business who relies on the support of the community to employ its people and be able to continue to provide our region with neighborhood news.

We’ve all shopped at the big-box stores and that’s OK. There are things we can purchase from those stores that we can often not get in our small towns. However, consider thoughtfully what you buy, especially now, during this gift-giving season.

In 2010, American Express founded Small Business Saturday to help businesses with their most pressing need — getting more customers. The day is meant to inspire people to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year, the big day is Nov. 24, and follows “Black Friday.”

When you are planning your shopping trip, keep a few things in mind:

When purchasing local, you are essentially supporting yourself and your family. Repeat studies have shown that your local businesses give back to their communities at a far greater percentage than do national chains.

In addition, research shows that more than 90 percent of small-business owners contribute each year to their communities through volunteering and in-kind offerings, as well as direct donations. Think of your local business men and women who are volunteer firefighters, serve on non-profit boards and shovel the snowy walks of their respective churches. Let’s reward this dedication.

Local shopping not only creates more jobs within our community, but it’s also an investment in the neighborhoods where we live, earn, worship, volunteer, are educated and entertained. Local business owners are interested in the community’s future. This includes the growth and success of commerce, tourism, education and healthcare.

The people you shop with Saturday are your friends and neighbors. You will receive the greatest customer service from these people whom you see on a regular basis.

Again, this year, think of the numbers: If all of Idaho County’s 16,369 people spent just $35 extra apiece at local businesses this 2018 holiday season, $572,915 additional dollars would be placed back in the community. Based on statistics, at least 50 percent of this would be recirculated into the local economy.

And that’s a pretty good chunk of change.

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