Shop locally on Saturday and all year

Today officially kicks off the holiday shopping season, and Saturday will bring the day that has become known as “Small Business Saturday.”

Created in 2010, Small Business Saturday joins an array of other specially designated shopping days during the Christmas season, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Each has developed for different reasons, but we look at Small Business Saturday as perhaps the most meaningful because it brings with it an opportunity to help give local entrepreneurs a boost and a lift to the local economy as well by spending your dollars close to home.

Big companies like Wal-Mart and Amazon have made it easy for shoppers to find deals, including by shopping online from the living room couch. But unquestionably, “easy” can come at a high cost.

Our local retailers, who we value and want to keep, all too often are seeing how this path to “easy” is adversely affecting their business. If we want to have physical retailers who employ local residents, now more than ever, brick and mortar stores need our support.

So, you ask, why should we care? Here are a few simple reasons.

The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that small businesses account for most of the jobs in this country, and small businesses create most of America’s new jobs.

While shoppers sometimes may bump into the manager of a national chain store, it’s much more likely that those shoppers will know, by name, the owners of the locally owned businesses in the Warren-Youngstown area. That’s because these business owners hold closely a local spirit. And they are our friends and neighbors, sharing the same feeling of community and, often, the same concerns.

These folks arguably are among the most generous supporters of civic groups, local charities, youth sports, schools and virtually every other form of community activity.

And let’s not forget that independent area businesses also pay local, county and state taxes, keeping the tax flow community-based. These taxes raise revenue for our schools, parks and services.

As the holidays approach, we urge you not to wait until after your gifts are purchased to begin thinking about the great opportunities that local businesses offer, and the benefits that come with buying local.

When you’re looking for a unique holiday gift idea, don’t think about surfing the ‘net. Think, instead, of perhaps a nice bottle of wine from Champion Beverage Tunnel, or a massage from Gentle Chiropractic or dinner at the Welshfield Inn.

Fine jewelry from Thom Duma in downtown Warren is always a good choice, or if you really want to go local and price is no object, you could consider a Lordstown-built Chevy Cruze from Diane Sauer or one of the other Trumbull County Chevy dealerships.

Local business owners will be counting on shoppers Saturday and throughout the shopping season to make their holiday cheery. But it will take far more support of local retailers and businesses than just one day, or even one season, to help keep our neighborhood businesses alive and well. That means shopping locally all year-round to keep our area retailers thriving.