Note: This is the opinion of the writer and not necessarily of the Kentucky New Era. Let the community know your opinion about this topic and others by submitting a "Letter to the editor."

We can all think big by shopping ‘small’ this holiday season.

Thanksgiving is this week and that means the commercialized extravaganza of Black Friday is building toward its crescendo — for better or worse.

It has gotten to the point where Black Friday events have crept into Thursday, with a push toward taking over the entire week.

I hope Kentucky residents think carefully about where they spend their hard-earned dollars and focus more on a somewhat counter initiative — Small Business Saturday — next weekend and really every day of the year.

Initiated by American Express in 2010 in what some would justifiably argue was a self-serving effort, Small Business Saturday has become the focal point of the grassroots Shop Small efforts, a year-round campaign to celebrate and support small businesses every day. The concept is built on the idea that shopping with small, independent businesses is an investment in our communities.

This has certainly been embraced by consumers over the years, but there is always opportunity to do more.

Almost a decade after it began, 97 percent of consumers who participate say they believe Small Business Saturday has had a positive impact on their community, according to the 2018 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey.

The survey also found:

n Nine out of 10 consumers believe it is more important than ever to support small businesses this holiday season.

n About 83 percent of consumers plan to do at least some portion of their holiday shopping at a small, independently owned retailer or restaurant either in person or online.

n Nearly all (96 percent) of consumers who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday said it inspires them to go to small, independently-owned retailers or restaurants they have not been to before or would not have otherwise tried.

This local support is vital to the health of our communities. The same study shows every dollar spent at a local business creates, on average, an additional 50 cents in economic impact.

Every year, this newspaper tries to drive home the benefits of supporting our small businesses.

According to the Independent We Stand organization, here are 10 reasons why you should “shop local.”

1. More of your money will be kept in your local economy: For every $100 you spend at locally owned businesses, $67 will stay in the community. What happens when you spend that same $100 at a national chain? Only $43 stays in the community.

2. You embrace what makes your community unique: You wouldn’t want your house to look like everyone else’s in the U.S. So why would you want your community to look that way?

3. You create local jobs: Local businesses are better at creating higher-paying jobs for your neighbors. When you shop locally, you help create jobs for teachers, firefighters, police officers and many other essential professions.

4. You help the environment: Buying from a locally-owned business conserves energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation and less packaging.

5. You nurture community: Local business owners know you, and you know them. Studies have shown local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chains.

6. You conserve your tax dollars: Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance and more money available to beautify your community. Also, spending locally instead of online ensures your sales taxes are reinvested where they belong — in your community.

7. You create more choice: Locally-owned businesses pick the items and products they sell based on what they know you like and want. Local businesses carry a wid-er array of unique products because they buy for their own individual markets.

8. You took advantage of their expertise: You are their friends and neighbors, and locally-owned businesses have a vested interest in knowing how to serve you. They’re passionate about what they do. Why not take advantage of it?

9. You invested in entrepreneurship: Creativity and entrepreneurship are what the American economy is founded upon. Nurturing local business en-sures a strong community.

10. You made your community a destination: The more interesting and unique your community, the more we will attract new neighbors, visitors and guests. This benefits everyone.

Will you be able to get everything on your Christmas list at small and independent businesses? Probably not. But that is OK. Every little bit helps and goes a long way toward investing in a bright future.

We can all say thanks to our community by foregoing the mad rush to big-box retailers and keeping more of our money right here at home.

WINCHESTER SUN editorial from the Kentucky Press News Service.

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