Small Business Saturday (< Black Friday!)

Thanks to American Express for sponsoring my writing today about small businesses. American Express is presenting Small Business Saturday, a way to honor the local merchants who are the backbone of the economy, this Saturday, November 27. They're offering statement credits to people who shop at small businesses, advertising for small-business owners, and donations to Girls Inc. for "Likes" of the Small Business Saturday page on Facebook. Join the celebration by clicking the "Like" button and then visiting the Facebook page to learn more about the program and read the terms and conditions that apply.

Thanksgiving is upon us people - and you know what that means. Food, family and an unending stream of television, radio and web ads reminding you that to camp out in a parking lot at your regional superstore to snatch up a marked down Wii, bargain Prada or the Justin Bieber pillowcases.

This is my plea to friends and family near and wide - keep it real and keep it local. Some of you are in towns where finding genuine locally-owned shops can be a struggle. But make the effort - you and your town will be better for it.  I'm so fortunate here in the Boston area because so many of the places I shop are locally owned.

I have a divine hardware store in the town center. The Fells Hardware store is where real hardware store guys will cut you a piece of screen, talk to you (at length) about which kind of paint you should use on the metal patio furniture you are 'thinking' about painting next spring, or just shoot the breeze about the high school football team. They never judge when I have an impulse buy of 72 woolen chair foot pads, or ask for 2 feet of bead ball chain (for jewelry) or even the occasional interesting bolt. They just help and smile and stifle the laugh when I ask for the wrong thing. And they have an amazing collection of historic photos of my town.

One street over is a locally owned bookstore, Bookends. They stock the books for the 'town read' and if your book group registers with them they'll discount your club read by 20%. How many businesses (that aren't pizza) in your town will deliver? Bookends delivers - to your house. (What?) They've also saved my bacon when I've called within minutes of their closing time and asked them to pull and wrap a book because 'I'm on my way to a birthday party I completely forgot about!' Awesome - that's what that is.

Newly opened across from my well-known name brand coffee chain (actually both the Pink chain and the Green coffee chains) is the Piantedosi Bread Shoppe. It's fantastic to have a local baker in town, starting with a small menu of bread and baked goodies and good coffee. My fondness for the bread here goes back to my childhood when I remember visiting the Everett factory location and get rolls right off the bakery line for big family parties. The smell of bread baking is something that I associate with my Grampy - and that has not changed in 40 years. So this is a double treat, good bread and happy thoughts of family gatherings past.

I choose to spend my money in these places whenever I can. I like these stores, I like these people, I love knowing that my money is being extra well spent because it is being spent locally.

The 3/50 Project is a great idea in shopping local. (Though I can disagree about the Internet shopping bit - as yours truly does a lot of my jewelry business online, but I digress, as usual.) Pick three local businesses, spend $50 a month and help your local economy not just survive, but thrive. No one likes to see SPACE FOR RENT signs in their town center - you can prevent that, even if it means speaking to your shopkeeper and asking them to stock things that you want to buy from them.

Think about what you want your town to look like - then act, and shop accordingly. Shop local, eat local and keep your community strong.

Small Business Saturday

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

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