For all those people who enjoy the thrill of the hunt and finding that special red ticket item that somehow eluded all other shopping addicts in the store, this time of year doesn't get any better.

And for the millions of football junkies who have suddenly grown a new hand extension for this weekend (called a remote control) to watch the smorgasbord of college and pro games, life couldn't be better.

Time will tell if the millions of dollars being pumped into our economy this weekend by both groups will be enough to help lift the economy.

Starting before Halloween, consumers have been bombarded from all sides by endless holiday promotions. Most end up in the trash but others merit some attention.

For the second year in a row, American Express is encouraging shoppers to support the local small businesses in their community tomorrow in one is known as Small Business Saturday. As for the promotion, American Express is offering a credit to its card owners who shop at a locally-owned business.

Ken Chenault, the CEO of American Express, points out that the average American is expected to spend at least $704 on gifts and other miscellaneous items. Since small businesses have created 65 percent of the net new jobs in this economy over the last 17 years, he says that consumers can continue to make a difference by supporting the independently owned smaller merchants.

Forbes lists a number of benefits to participating in Small Business Saturday.

For consumers, it means not having to travel and being stuck in traffic. Black Friday and even Cyber Monday can create war zones when it comes to getting to and then shopping at the big outlets. By staying local you can avoid that hassle, plus you don't have to assign different family members to department stores, armed with credit cards, shopping lists and cell phones to communicate to your home "headquarters."

Small businesses are the backbone of the community and by supporting them, it will boost your local economy. Small business advocates point out that with every $100 that is spent at a local retailer, $68 will return to the community through taxes and payroll.

Many of us have witnessed the loss of Mom and Pop stores during our lifetime. Shopping locally can renew some of that home-town pride while also boosting our local economy.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com [1]