Shop local, dine local

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Every year after Thanksgiving, Americans kick off the holiday shopping season with big stores advertising deal after deal. Not long ago, Americans during the holiday season typically would visit locally-owned small retailers in a downtown area to purchase all of their gifts. Business owners would decorate their shops with lights and ornaments or create elaborate window displays to grab the imagination of a passerby and encourage them inside. It was a magical time of year, and many of us still hold on to those memories today.

With the dramatic changes in retail over the last 20 years, those holiday scenes have been in danger of passing into the realm of nostalgic folklore. Recent surveys show that 79 percent of Americans make regular online purchases throughout the year. Brick and mortar businesses are looking for new ways to compete and provide a more personalized customer service focus, as well as benefits to the local community by creating jobs and boosting the local economy.

Their efforts are working, and small businesses remain the top producers both in Montana and nationally. Here at home, Montana’s 118,000 small businesses continue to generate two of every three net new jobs and deliver essential goods and services to the state’s population.

In 2017, Small Business Saturday provided a huge boost to the overall U.S. economy when 108 million consumers shopped or dined small and generated nearly $12 billion in reported spending. This year’s Small Business Saturday, on Nov. 24, looks to be even brighter. This translates into great news for small retailers and restaurants across the country, because consumer spending during the holidays is expected to increase by five percent as a result of our growing economy.

Join me in making at least one purchase from a locally-owned small business in your city or town. These business owners are true heroes of our community.

Dan Nordberg serves as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Region VIII Administrator and is based in Denver. He oversees the agency’s programs and services in Montana.

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