Remember To Shop Small And Buy Local

This year’s ninth annual “Small Business Saturday” was a record-setting success, according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), generating an estimated $17.8 billion in consumer spending nationwide.

Nevertheless, it was wedged between all of the hype that comes with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and so the underlying message bears repeating as the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear: Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and local job creation. Shop Small. Buy Local.

There is no denying that consumers increasingly go online to do their holiday gift buying nowadays. Nevertheless, the closer we get to Christmas Day the more shoppers still return to “brick-and-mortar retail.” Fortunately, there’s still a shop down the street or around the corner that can turn out to be the best destination for finding that perfect (and meaningful) gift.

Here’s hoping we all do our best to support small businesses on Market Street, Main Street, Water Street, the Commons, or wherever they happen to be found in your own community.

The head of the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) has defined the idea of shopping small this way: “Small businesses are the fabric of our communities. By shopping small…we can support the men and women who are building these amazing small businesses. It’s a chance to say thank you to the small business owners who do so much for our communities.”

Small business owners — in many instances, small business families – play fundamental roles in local economies here at home and, collectively, across New York State and the nation. The SBA notes that over the past two decades small businesses have been responsible for creating two out of every three net new jobs in the country. More than one-half of all of America’s working men and women, according to federal statistics, own or are employed by a small business.

I always look forward to this annual chance to recall the following words from the National Federation of Independent Business/NY, “It’s about the entrepreneurs and families who have put everything into stores that offer what the chains and e-commerce companies don’t – something different, something special, from handcrafted gifts to genuinely friendly service…When you shop at a small business, you’re supporting your hometown, your neighborhood and your neighbors.”

There is no better way to say it.

A National Retail Federation survey has found that by mid-December, the average consumer has only completed less than half of his or her holiday shopping. With this in mind, as we head out the door in the busy days ahead, there’s nothing to keep us from setting aside at least one stop along the way to support a local small business somewhere across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions.

I look forward to seeing some of you out there, including at one of our local tree farms to give a boost to this vital, locally grown industry. The Empire State is one of America’s largest producers of locally grown and cut Christmas trees. It’s an estimated $8-million statewide industry.

Consequently, I’ll close with a reminder for everyone who has not yet put up a holiday tree. The website of the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York (CTFANY) makes it convenient to find a nearby farm, http://www.christmastreesny.org/.

CTFANY Executive Director Mary Jeanne Packer says, “Christmas tree farming is a year-round job and our growers truly appreciate the recognition that this time of year brings to their efforts throughout the season to plant, maintain, and trim these beautiful trees. Christmas tree farms provide many environmental benefits including adding oxygen to the air, improving soil and water quality, and providing habitat for wildlife.”

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