10 Reasons to Fall in Love with Shopping Local

On Thanksgiving, have dinner with your family and watch football. On Friday, go for a hike. Then on Saturday — Small Business Saturday — head to Main Street or your local shopping area and spend your money in local, independent stores and cafés.

Your neighbors will be there, too. In fact, a whopping 82% of U.S. consumers plan to shop or eat at an independently owned store or restaurant on Small Business Saturday, according to the American Express Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey.

Small Business Saturday, my favorite day of the year, is coming Nov. 29. In just five short years, it has become an American shopping tradition. Credit card company American Express kicked off Small Business Saturday in 2010 and has committed huge resources to make this a game-changing event for small, local companies.

10 reasons to love shopping local

1. It's fun. My family used to shop on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). We'd get up early, head for sales, then meet for breakfast. No more. It's just too painful: no real bargains, crazy crowds, unpleasant employees. Now, we've made Small Business Saturday our tradition. We sleep in, meet for breakfast at a local, independent café, then go shopping in small stores.

2. You support schools, police and fire departments. When you shop small, the bulk of the money you spend and most of your taxes stay local — helping schools, paving streets, keeping you safe. According to the research firm Civic Economics, for every $100 you spend:

• In a local small business, $68 stays in your community.

• At a local branch of a chain store, $43 remains.

• Online, virtually no money stays local.

3. You get money back. If you're an American Express cardholder, register your card in advance. Then shop in one of the many listed independent stores and restaurants on the American Express "Shop Small" map — and get up to three $10 statement credits. Register at www.ShopSmall.com.

4. You can find great books and meet your favorite authors. Support from the country's most popular writers has helped make this the busiest day of the year for many independent bookstores. Authors will be volunteering in bookstores signing books, giving recommendations, and even ringing up sales at the cash register. Check here to see which authors will be volunteering at your local bookstore:http://www.indiebound.org/indiesfirst.

5. You'll raise your property values. Lively, vibrant neighborhood shopping streets are considered an advantage when selling a home. They make your property more valuable.

6. You'll strengthen your community. Local businesses are owned by people who live in your town, go to your church or synagogue, donate to local animal shelters, coach Little League teams. When you spend money in their stores and cafes, you support your neighbors.

7. You'll get amazing toys. Walk into a toy superstore, and you'll find aisles of pink and blue plastic that'll end up at Goodwill by spring. Instead, at an independent toy store, you'll find toys that will spark kids' imaginations, help them learn and be a lot of fun. Locate one at the American Specialty Retail Store Association website:http://www.astratoy.org/find-a-store.asp

8. You'll create jobs. Local businesses create local jobs. Often, these are jobs that pay better than those at chain stores.

9. You'll find "where did you get that?" jewelry. OK, I admit it — some of the gifts I buy on Small Business Saturday are for myself. I shop small gift stores, boutiques and jewelry stores to find unique accessories.

10. You'll get pampered. The best gift is often an experience — a spa day, golf lesson, cooking class. Check your local independent businesses for great services to give as gifts.

**Article compliments of Rhonda Abrams (USA TODAY)


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