The mad rush known as the Christmas shopping season began late Thursday and moved into high gear today. We are happy about all this consumer enthusiasm because we know that a large portion of the nation’s economy is driven by consumer spending. When consumers don’t spend, jobs go away.
We are also fans of people being wise consumers. That means shoppers should never buy something just because they found a good deal, but rather reserve their purchases for something they or someone else needs and can put to good use. This wise shopping philosophy extends to the “buying local” movement that is sweeping the country. Consumers are realizing that when they shop locally, they are helping a neighbor stay in business.
As our readers go out today and join in the Black Friday frenzy, we hope they keep some of their dollars in their pocket for another trip Saturday. Saturdays after Black Friday are now known as Small Business Saturday, thanks to a movement started by American Express. That company gives $25 to registered users of the company’s credit cards who shop at participating small businesses on the special Saturday.
We are glad American Express started this movement in 2010, as America’s small business owners have often been left in nearly empty stores as crowds swamp big box stores. While we love a good bargain at super chain stores and encourage others to look for good deals there, we also want our readers to realize that locally-owned small businesses offer niche products that also make good holiday gifts.
Goshen and the surrounding cities and towns thrive on these small businesses, which offer everything from locally-made hand soaps to unique and stylish women’s clothing. Goshen itself has a variety of shops downtown, in the Old Bag Factory and scattered up and down main thoroughfares. Middlebury, Bristol, Shipshewana and Topeka are noted for their shops that cater to seasonal visitors, but these shops remain open year-round and offer some great gifts. Wakarusa and Nappanee are in the heart of Amish Country and these communities also are good destinations for shoppers wanting to combine a holiday treasure hunt with a relaxing, short trip. The traffic in the lake towns of Milford and Syracuse swell each summer, but again, they too are places where there are good bargains to be found year-round.
So, we urge our readers to go out today and enjoy the shopping and the people watching. But we also think local shoppers should take a second trip Saturday and visit our locally-owned small businesses. They are fun to visit and we know that shoppers will find some great gifts at great prices while helping their neighbors, friends and families keep the small business dream alive.