Shop small this year

Published 10:02 pm Thursday, November 5, 2015

With the Thanksgiving holiday now less than three weeks away, our minds begin turning to thoughts of family, turkey, football … and shopping. And November turns out to be a great time to shop in Suffolk.

Taking advantage of the pop-up craze that has swept food trucks and mini-libraries into the American consciousness, the Retail Alliance and the Suffolk Economic Development Department will be sponsoring ReStored, an initiative to provide merchants with the chance test a new market, expand their geographic footprint, and reach new customers without the startup costs.

The event is set for Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Nov. 15, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with participating merchants getting mini-spaces in the Professional Building and, potentially, other sites downtown. Shopping with these merchants will truly be supporting small business.

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For many people, though, holiday shopping is more of a Thanksgiving tradition. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional kickoff for holiday gift buying, has even become a national event unto itself.

Major retailers will spend billions of dollars in advertising to lure shoppers into their stores as early as Thanksgiving night, all in the hope of generating as much year-end revenue as possible. It’s a great time for the big box stores, but a difficult one for small businesses to try to compete for your shopping dollars.

Recognizing the rough times the Black Friday chaos can create for small businesses, American Express launched Small Business Saturday in 2010 in an effort to capitalize on the shopping buzz for local, independently owned business. The program has grown tremendously since then, and in 2014 an estimated $14.3 billion was spent on the Saturday after Thanksgiving at these independent businesses.

Supporting small and locally owned businesses can make a big difference to the local economy. Local retailers return three times as much of the money you spend to the local community as national chains do.

So make plans this year to shop locally. Whether you do it on Nov. 14, during the ReStored event, or on Nov. 28, during Small Business Saturday — or even some other time during the season — you can be sure that your patronage will be noticed and appreciated. And you can be proud to have done something to ensure your community is a little bit better off.