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Small businesses need you Saturday

November 23, 2018

It’s Black Friday, and you may be tempted to go big or stay home. Why not do both tomorrow by spending some money at a small retailer or restaurant to support the annual Small Business Saturday?

This special day was first promoted by American Express in 2010 to help small companies survive the recession, but it has grown far beyond one organization’s support. At a time when the two political parties can’t agree on much, the Senate passed a unanimous resolution in support of it in 2011, and officials in all 50 states participate as well. The reason for this groundswell isn’t hard to figure out.

Small businesses fill in the gaps in almost every local economy. They offer goods or services that the big outlets either can’t or won’t bother with. Without them, you’d have less to choose from, and no consumer wants to hear that.

Sure, you can find almost anything online these days, but that kind of commerce with some faraway company doesn’t help the place you live. It helps that company in another time zone or continent, because that’s where the profit lands.

Small businesses don’t operate like that. They’re not faceless, or distant. Their owners usually know their customers because they live here, too. The rent they pay for their shop, or property taxes if they own it, ripples through the local economy. It helps other people earn a paycheck or keeps another local employer open. The person who benefits from that turnover could be you, or someone you know.

And it’s not easy, either. Small businesses don’t have a national partner to rely on. Most owners work long hours, and days off or vacations can be rare. They have to do it all, from setting up in the morning to cleaning up at night.

Even then, most owners have small profit margins, which is why they need to remind some of their customers to stop by now and then. That’s particularly important during the Christmas shopping season, when some businesses earn a big part of their yearly revenues. If they get a lot of traffic, they can stay open the following year. If not, you may see that empty building and wonder what happened, maybe thinking it’s a shame that such a familiar place is no longer open.

Well, it would be a shame if that small operation almost had enough business to keep going but just couldn’t stretch the numbers anymore. People like you can make a difference by stopping in instead of driving by.

In fact, you can do this more than just on Small Business Saturday. You can do it throughout the year, and Southeast Texas will be better if you can.

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