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Published 9:42 am Thursday, November 5, 2015

With the Thanksgiving holiday now only 22 days away, our minds begin turning to thoughts of family, turkey, football … and shopping. For many across the country — as well as right here in Western Tidewater — holiday shopping has become as much a part of their Thanksgiving tradition as overindulging on homemade stuffing and long recovery naps in front of the television. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional kickoff for holiday gift buying, has even become a national event unto itself. Major retailers will spend billions of dollars in advertising to lure shoppers into their stores as early as Thanksgiving night, all in the hope of generating as much year-end revenue as possible. It’s a great time for the big box stores, but a difficult one for small businesses to try to compete for your shopping dollars.

On Nov. 27, 2010, American Express launched Small Business Saturday in an effort to capitalize on the shopping buzz for local, independently owned business. The program has grown tremendously since then, and in 2014 an estimated $14.3 billion was spent on the Saturday after Thanksgiving at these independent businesses.

This year, The Tidewater News and Real County 101.7 are partnering with Franklin-Southampton Economic Development, Inc., the local sponsor of Small Business Saturday, to raise awareness of the event.

Along with Real Country 101.7, we will be running ads and several columns about the benefits of spending your holiday dollars locally in hopes that more money will be spent here at home this year. It’s a great program, and one that we are truly proud to be a part of. Local retailers return three times as much of the money you spend to the local community as national chains do. So, please, make plans to shop locally on Nov. 28 at a participating retailer. Your community will be better off because you do.