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Give Thanks by Shopping Small

November 24, 2014 - 6:00pm

According to a Gallup poll conducted this summer, asking people how much confidence they have in various institutions, only 7 percent of Americans said they trusted Congress a great deal or quite a lot. A mere 29 percent trusted the presidency.

Small business, on the other hand, came in second, with 62 percent considering it trustworthy. The only organization to score higher, not surprisingly, was the military.

While our politicians continue to disagree and disappoint, Main Street has found a way to endure. Some small-business owners, instead of laying people off, have cut their own salaries. Others have dipped into savings to keep their doors open, make payroll or avoid cutting back employee hours. In Florida, where a business-friendly state climate has helped small-business owners avoid some of the pitfalls seen across the country, many have even managed to create jobs in our communities, finding a way to employ nearly 2.9 million of our state'?s workers.

That'?s incredible when you think about it, and when we have a chance to thank small business and support it, we should take it.

We?'ll have that opportunity on Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is the Saturday following Thanksgiving. This year it'?s Nov. 29, and we'?re encouraging all Floridians to get on board and celebrate the day by shopping at your local, independently owned small businesses.

Launched in 2010 as an effort to give small businesses --? many struggling to get out of the red after a long recession -- a much-needed shot in the arm, this campaign to ?shop small? has become pretty big.

The concept is simple: Instead of one-stop shopping at the nearest mega-retailer or giant mall, or sitting at home and ordering online, you shop at small, locally-owned businesses for things you simply can'?t find anywhere else.

Small Business Saturday started as a simple idea, but America responded and it has been gaining traction year after year. Last year, shoppers spent $5.7 billion at locally-owned shops and restaurants on Small Business Saturday, according to a survey conducted by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business. Last year's total marked a 3.6 percent increase over 2012's event.

Small-business owners are making the most of the event by offering deals, specials and one-of-a-kind products that will make you glad you stopped by. The small-business owners themselves are just one more of the perks. ?Instead of dealing with temporary holiday workers, at an independently owned business there?'s a good chance you?'ll be dealing directly with the owner, who has a genuine interest in making you happy. They have a personal investment in meeting new customers and fulfilling their wishes, in hopes that you?'ll come back time and again throughout the year.

And that?'s our hope, too -- that Small Business Saturday fosters relationships with your local mom-and-pops that can last year-round. You can make connections with retailers, restaurants and service providers that you may not have considered patronizing before. Perhaps they'?re off the beaten path, or you weren'?t really sure what they offered. But what you can be sure of is that you?'re making an investment in your town. Most dollars spent in your backyard will be churned back into your community, not sent back to some corporate office somewhere else.

According to the AMEX/NFIB survey, half of U.S. consumers report that they are aware of Small Business Saturday, and among those who are aware, 82 percent say they plan to patronize a small, independently owned retailer or restaurant on Nov. 29. Just as important, 77 percent say Small Business Saturday makes them want to shop small all year long.

If you participate, you?'ll be supporting your friends and neighbors. You?'ll be supporting your community. And you'?ll be saying thank you to Florida'?s small-business owners.

Bill Herrle is executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business/Florida, the nation?'s leading small-business association.

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