Shopping local can really pay off

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 30, 2013

While Black Friday grabs major news coverage every year, another tradition is quietly taking hold in communities across the country.
Small Business Saturday was first observed in 2010 as a more locally focused counterpart to Black Friday. It is meant to encourage shoppers to visit smaller and often locally owned businesses instead of the big box stores that draw most of the Black Friday crowds.
Although they may not be able to offer the deep discounts promoted on Black Friday, small businesses offer many advantages for those willing to do a little extra legwork.
First, shoppers do not have to wait in long lines and compete with others for the same dozen or so items most have on their respective lists. And without a doubt the shopping experience at smaller retailers far surpasses that of most national chain stores. Assistance is never far away, and workers will often take the time to not only help shoppers find what they are looking but sometimes even help an uncertain shopper pick out the perfect gift for a hard-to-buy-for friend or relative.
And there is another less obvious reason to patronize locally owned businesses. Although shoppers flock to big box stores on Black Friday to save 50 bucks or so, they may end up paying much more than that in the long run. A strong business sector is the backbone of any community, providing employment for local citizens and feeding the local tax base. The result is higher quality of life for everyone.
L’Observateur is encouraging shopping local this holiday season with its Holiday Hoopla contest, which appeared in the Nov. 23 and 27 editions and will appear again on Dec. 7 and 11. You could win gift cards to many wonderful retailers across the River Parishes, but you can only enter at participating merchant locations.
So this year shopping local might actually put money in your pocket. Now that beats any Black Friday deal around.