NFIB, the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization, points out that, instead of dealing with part-timers hired to help out over the holidays, you stand a good chance of dealing directly with the owner of the business, someone who actually cares whether you find the thing you’re looking for and wants you to come back throughout the year.

You can’t go online or watch TV without seeing ads about Black Friday sales, but I’m more excited by what comes next.

The next day, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, is Small Business Saturday. It’s our chance to support the locally owned stores and restaurants that support our communities throughout the year.

It’s easy to forget, but small business really is what drives Louisiana’s economy. Small businesses account for 99.5 percent of all employers in the state and employ 53.2 percent of Louisiana’s private-sector workforce, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

These businesses are run by and employ our friends and neighbors, and they’re what keeps our community strong by supporting everything from sports teams to local charities throughout the year. Small Business Saturday is our chance to pay them back.
I think of Small Business Saturday as the opposite of Black Friday.

Black Friday is when people get up early, sit in traffic, try to find to find a place to park, fight the crowds, and stand in line to save a few bucks on things that probably no one really wants.

Small Business Saturday, on the other hand, is about avoiding the malls and mall traffic. NFIB, the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization, points out that, instead of dealing with part-timers hired to help out over the holidays, you stand a good chance of dealing directly with the owner of the business, someone who actually cares whether you find the thing you’re looking for and wants you to come back throughout the year.

Small Business Saturday began in 2010 as a marketing campaign launched by American Express to promote small businesses, but as state director of NFIB in Louisiana, I can tell you that Small Business Saturday isn’t just a gimmick.

NFIB believes that Small Business Saturday is a strong reminder to #ShopSmall and support the local businesses that keep our communities strong. It’s also a great way to save money on unique gifts and gift cards to unique businesses your friends and family won’t find at the mall or online.

According to a survey by NFIB and American Express, 108 million shoppers spent $12.9 billion at independently owned businesses on last year’s Small Business Saturday. The survey said 43 percent of U.S. adults shopped or ate small on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Most of those people said they shopped or ate at more than one independent business.

You wouldn’t think something as modest as Small Business Saturday would have such a major impact, but it does.

When you shop local and shop small, you’re supporting your friends and neighbors. You’re supporting your community. When you shop at a chain store, most of the money goes to some corporate office somewhere, but when you shop on Main Street, most of that money stays on Main Street.

This year make a difference in your community: Shop local on Small Business Saturday.

Dawn Starns is NFIB state director for Louisiana