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Plans are under way by local businesses in preparation for national Small Business Saturday, which takes place on Nov. 28.

Founded by American Express in 2010, it’s a day dedicated to supporting small businesses and communities across the country. It falls on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, the day after Black Friday and two days before Cyber Monday.

For every $100 spent at a local business, $68 of it stays within the local economy to support important programs benefiting local citizens, according to the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, a nonprofit that advocates building strong local economies.

“In these very difficult times it is especially important to remember the small businesses that are locally owned,” says Meredith Wait, owner of Dickinson & Wait in Shepherdstown. “The dollars spent here will end up being put back into the local economy — not so with the money spent in big box stores. Shop local!”

Small businesses make up more than 99 percent of all businesses in the United States and employ almost half of the country’s workers, according to the Small Business Administration. On average, only half of these businesses survive the five-year mark. Those not comfortable shopping in person can still support local shops and restaurants by purchasing online. Also, gift cards to local stores and restaurants are a great gift to encourage people to come back downtown and shop or eat when they are ready.

“These local small businesses are not only important to the local economy but are the cornerstones of our local culture, the glue that binds our main streets and are essential to the vibrancy of who we are as a community,” says Todd Coyle, chief operating officer for the Jefferson GAP Coalition, a nonprofit that operates the Charles Town Farmers Market and the Bushel & Peck grocery store in Charles Town. “Supporting them through these tough times, the way they need to be supported, speaks volumes to the integrity of who we are to the rest of the world. There is no better way to show your kindness for the holidays and love of your community than to buy from a local small business.”

Multiple organizations are getting involved to give local businesses a boost.

For example, the Jefferson County Convention & Visitors Bureau (JCCVB) is spending marketing dollars to remind everyone to shop small and save our local businesses. The campaign is entitled “Love our Towns. Support our neighbors. Shop Local.”

“I believe each of these small businesses has a very real connection to their community and we have an incredible opportunity to give back to them,” says Annette Gavin Bates, CEO of the JCCVB. “Let’s support the businesses you love today, so they are here tomorrow.”

Liz Cook, downtown coordinator for the city of Charles Town, said that navigating the pandemic has been difficult for everyone and this year, it’s even more important to support local businesses.

“Because of the pandemic, things for businesses change from day to day. We still want people to shop at local businesses,” Cook said. “We’re also having a Shop Small Christmas.”

Discounts and specials will be held for both events.

For example, deals can be found at Feagans Jewelers at 230 W. Washington St. in Charles Town.

“There will be up to a 50 percent discount on items in the entire store,” says Shane Stoneberger of Feagans. “We’ll also be offering free ring cleaning and sizing.”

Anthony Brooks, owner of Hamilton’s Tavern 1840 in Harpers Ferry and the H. B. Snallygaster General Store & Café in Bolivar, said that local businesses strive to put money back into the local economy.

“As small business owners, we have worked very hard to engage with local vendors and crafters — from micro-farms and creameries to wood crafters and glass blowers,” Brooks said. “It is important to support those individuals because they are part of the fibers that make our region unique.”

“Celebrating the holidays this year is going to be different for everyone,” he added. “There is nothing better than a fresh-baked loaf of bread or a hand-knit scarf. Letting these local artisans know they are appreciated and loved, has holiday spirit written all over it.”

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