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Be a hero to local businesses

Yes, yes, the official Shop Small/Shop Local events are all NEXT weekend. But I know enough people who have a disturbing head start on their Christmas shopping this year, that I figure I’d better get a jump on things.

If you are not among those who are already sending giant boxes to friends filled with wrapped gifts for them to put under their trees … when they get around to putting them up (Yes, that happened to me this week. My friend is a nut, but we love her anyway), please consider doing as much of your shopping as possible with small, locally owned businesses.

This has been a really rough year for them. Some of them didn’t make it.

You all know by now that Black Friday got its name not because of the dark nature of the capitalist takeover of a sacred holiday, but because it is often the day on which an influx of shoppers finally pushes a retailer into the black for the year. This year, and especially for many of our locally owned shops, Black Friday and the days afterward may do little more than bump them a little less into the red. But it will make a difference.

Isn’t that what we’re looking for when we shop for gifts? We want to make a difference. And if we shop small/local, we have a chance to make a difference both for the gift receiver AND gift seller.

I discovered by accident the other day that I can walk from my home to a little hidden gem of a small business I had been meaning to visit for a while. I typed it into my phone and followed the instructions to get there … and realized that from their parking lot I could almost see my house. I was a little ashamed I had not found them sooner.

I tried to make up for it by then talking them up to a few others who had not yet gotten around to visiting the shop. Hopefully, we can make a difference for them, this year.

But there are so many others in our valley. We are fortunate. If you want anything — clothing, books, pop culture items, essential oils, handcrafted items, wines, home decor, gifts with a conscience … the list goes on and on — you can get it from a locally owned shop, and there’s a decent chance some of their inventory was MADE right here at home, too.

What better way to tell far-flung friends you are thinking of them than by sending them a little piece of the Mid-Ohio Valley for the holidays?

On the other hand, some of it may be made in faraway places by people who have developed relationships with our local entrepreneurs, rather than with the retail giants. Those wares are unusual and help both someone local AND someone we’ll never meet. That’s a pretty fantastic gift, too.

Start putting your lists together. Inevitably there will be items that simply must be purchased from the mega chains and/or arrive on our porches in boxes. But if you explore closer to home, maybe you can foil porch pirates by carrying in all your recently purchased local treasures.

Most local small businesses have found great ways to keep customers safe without sacrificing much in the way of convenience.

And, again, they need you this year.

Be a hero to local businesses, to local makers and to those on your gift list.

Shop small, shop local. Enjoy!

Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at cmyer@newsandsentinel.com

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