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Think outside the box store

It’s hard to believe, but Christmas is just around the corner. Maybe you’ve started your shopping. Maybe you wait until the last minute. Whichever it is, Small Business Saturday is on Nov. 28 (the day after the traditional Black Friday).

The idea for the shopping holiday is to encourage people to visit small businesses in their communities and buy gifts from them as well.

“It is vital, absolutely vital, to support your local businesses, especially at this time, to keep local dollars local, and to make sure our small businesses not only survive this pandemic, but also are here for decades to come,” said Alice Wanamaker, assistant vice president of the Carbon Chamber and Economic Development Corp. “Many of our small towns have already overcome some extreme hardships, and helping the business owners and their employees ensures that dollars continue to circulate in our community.”

Aimee Dotson, a spokesperson for the Tamaqua Area Chamber of Commerce, said that for every dollar spent in the community, 52 cents comes back to it. But for every dollar spent at a chain store, only 14 cents comes back.

The impact is even greater for money spent at small restaurants. Every dollar spent at a local restaurant yields 79 cents in return versus 30 cents with a chain restaurant.

“When you shop local, your money stays local and helps the community where you live and play,” she said.

Small and/or local businesses give donations for festivals and fundraisers, and they provide employment for people who might not be employable by larger companies, Dotson said.

“It’s more than important (to shop at small businesses). It’s imperative,” she said. “Local businesses can’t exist without local support.”

Wanamaker agreed.

“Your support at a local boutique, retail market, restaurant or grocery store is how your neighbors are putting food on their table and paying their bills,” she said. “Your support is the only thing that can keep them afloat and flourish.”

This month, new marketing is pitching the whole month of November as one big Black Friday full of deals, but both women think it shouldn’t affect Small Business Saturday, as long as people shop small and shop local.

“Downtown Tamaqua has so many great places to shop,” Dotson said. “We know that not everything you are looking to buy can be bought locally. That’s understandable. We simply encourage you to ‘think outside the box’ before you head out to the mall or online to shop.”

Wannamaker said, “If consumers replace half of their Amazon purchases with purchases at a local establishment, they are going to have a big impact on the local economy.”

“This year, let’s all give our community a gift,” Dotson said. “Shop local, shop small throughout the holiday season and then, make it a habit. That will be the best gift of all for all of us.”

From left, Jordan Cummins and Barbara Zehner pose for a picture with Santa Claus in their store Jingle Bells Christmas Shoppe in Jim Thorpe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO