Shopping for the best deals on Christmas gifts used to be pretty easy.
Get up at 4 o’clock in the morning on Black Friday, stand in a dark parking lot in the freezing cold with hundreds of strangers, then burst through the doors and elbow your way down crewded aisles to find that special item at a deep discount. Oh what fun.
But now that fun is limited by stores still hesitant to welcome Black Friday crowds, concerns about the supply chain and the relatively fewer number of great deals than in past years.
But alas, hope is not lost for finding great deals on unique gifts, if you know where to look.
If you want that truly unique or special gift, while supporting your local business people and rediscovering the joy of walking around your village or city, then today’s the day to get your shopping shoes on.
Today is Small Business Saturday, a day designated every year at this time to encourage shoppers to patronize local stores.
These stores often sell items you can’t find in the big chain stores, gifts that show you care more than just pulling some generic item off a high shelf.
Take the time to wander into these stores and see what they’ve got. They might have something unique to that business owner’s individual crafting skills or knowledge.
They might have something for specialty interests and hobbies or locally produced items that reflect the community.
And unlike many of the big box stores, the small size of these businesses often means you’ll get individualized, knowledgeable assistance.
If you want to give a unique gift to someone who enjoys fine dining, downtowns often offer a variety of locally owned restaurants to fit anyone’s taste buds. Dine there while you’re shopping today, and pick up gift certificates for someone on your list.
Some businesses will be having special sales and offering discounts today, so take advantage of those as well.
Remember that these local business owners are major sponsors of local youth sports teams and often sponsor or donate items like t-shirts and trophies to be given away at charity events. If you don’t support these businesses, they can’t support the events we all care about.
And let’s not forget about the financial benefit they provide to the community.
The money you spend with local small businesses stays in the community, through local property taxes and sales taxes that fund sidewalks, roads and other government services. These owners also live locally, so they care about the community and invest their profits back in it.
Small Business Saturday is both an opportunity and a reminder — an opportunity to rediscover your local businesses and your local downtown, and a reminder to take advantage of what they have to offer, not just today, but all year long.
So take a drive. Take a stroll.
The people on your holiday shopping list will be glad you did — and so will you.
Google your city, village or county chamber of commerce for more details about what’s going on in your community.