Shopping at a locally owned and operated business is truly a unique experience.

The atmosphere surrounds you as soon as you step out of your car. Sometimes, holiday music flows through the main thoroughfares of your small town. Almost always, twinkling snowflakes line the streets.

Large storefront windows decorated for the season beam welcoming lights onto the sidewalk. These windows offer a snapshot of what you can expect when you enter the small business.

Upon taking that step inside, chances are you’ll get a friendly “hello.” This likely is the small business owner.

While shopping, the quiet is soothing. It gives you time to ponder that gift you’re looking for. Is it something your loved one will like? You can ask the business owner’s advice. They’ll be happy to chat with you. Sometimes they’ll make suggestions. If they don’t have the item you’re looking for, they may send you to a neighboring store that’s also locally owned.

You can shop whenever their doors are open. One special day this year to keep in mind is Small Business Saturday, which is Nov. 30. Many of these businesses will have special activities and offers planned specifically for that day.

Small businesses help drive our rural communities. They help our downtowns thrive. This holiday season, and year round, it’s up to us to support them.

Shopping locally bolsters our community’s economy. Each dollar spent can bring in as much as $3.50 to the local economy, according to the American Independent Business Alliance. This gives a hand up to the business, its employees, and allows them to shop in town, multiplying your dollar.

This holiday season, I challenge you to go downtown. Step out of your car. Take in the sights and sounds. Support our small business owners. After all, they are our friends and neighbors.

 

Rhea Landholm is brand marketing and communications manager for the Center for Rural Affairs. Established in 1973, the center is a private, nonprofit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action-oriented programs addressing social, economic and environmental issues.

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