Holiday advice: Skip Black Friday and go small on Saturday

Tony Gagliardi
Tony Gagliardi

Is a spike in your blood pressure any way to start the holiday season? That’s almost certain to occur on the day after Thanksgiving, when, lemming-like, many people will rise and rush to their automobiles, sit in traffic for hours and arrive just in time to jostle for a prime parking spot.

Already pulsating, your anxiety level will reach cruising altitude as you think the most uncharitable thoughts about the people in line in front of you. The ones who had to wait until they approached the cashier before fumbling through their purses and wallets. The ones with a lot of questions when answers are clearly printed on the box.

Here’s the best Black Friday advice of all: Wait a day and shop Small Business Saturday. Your blood pressure and the local economy will thank you.

The concept is simple: Instead of shopping at the nearest big box store or giant mall or sitting at home and ordering online, you shop at small, locally owned businesses for things you can’t find anywhere else. Instead of dealing with temporary workers who don’t know the merchandise, there’s a good chance you’ll be dealing directly with an owner who cares very much about making you happy so you’ll come back. We’re talking about places like Benges Shoes in Grand Junction, which has been in business for more than 100 years.

Want even more good reasons to choose Main Street?

When you shop at a chain store, most of the money goes back to some corporate office. But when you shop on Main Street, most of that money stays on Main Street.

Launched in 2010, the campaign to shop small has yielded big dividends for the Colorado and United States economies. Last year, shoppers spent $5.7 billion at locally owned shops and restaurants on Small Business Saturday, according to a survey conducted by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business. That’s a 3.6 percent increase over 2012.

This summer, Gallup asked people to assess how much confidence they had in a variety of American institutions. Small business came in second at 62 percent, just behind the military at 74 percent and way ahead of big business at only 21 percent. A few years ago, the Pew Foundation found that small businesses are the most trusted group in America. Alarmingly, however, a Brookings Institution report issued this year found a 30-year low in American entrepreneurship.

Holiday shopping is a needed shot in the arm for the small business owners who employ more working Americans and generate almost every new job, and it starts with you.

Of course, there are things big box stores have that Main Street shops don’t. But you might be surprised at the variety bricks-and-mortar stores on Main Street offer.

So how about starting a new shopping tradition this year? Make the Friday after Thanksgiving just an ordinary Friday. Start your holiday shopping Saturday on Main Street. That new economic ecosystem will benefit everyone.