The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 28, 2013

Think local

— Maybe it just gets lost amid the whirl of the Thanksgiving Day holiday, and the weather-related travel problems. Or perhaps it just slips your mind over a hectic weekend of shopping between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

We’d like to issue a gentle reminder about Small Business Saturday.

Sandwiched into the Thanksgiving Day weekend since the concept was created by American Express in 2010, it’s easy to overlook.

But we urge shoppers to take a moment to incorporate the idea of supporting smaller, local businesses into their holiday buying strategy.

In West Virginia, small business forms much of the economic backbone of the state’s employment. According to the West Virginia Development Office, small businesses in the state make up 96 percent of employers, and they employ 53 percent of the state’s private-sector labor force.

“Local businesses provide important jobs, goods and services,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in a statement released Wednesday. “West Virginia’s small businesses play a vital role in our state and local economies. Small business is big business in West Virginia, and I encourage everyone to take this opportunity to support small businesses on Nov. 30.”

American Express, to its credit, aggressively marketed and promoted the idea of Small Business Saturday coming right after Black Friday. They generated more than a million Facebook likes for the concept, and also pushed it on Twitter, with the hashtags #smallbusinesssaturday and #smallbizsaturday.

Kelly Nix, a leadership specialist with the West Virginia University Extension Service, says the best place to find local shops and businesses is right on Main Street in many of our towns.

That’s where the boutique shops and family-run restaurants are likely to be.

And Nix adds a reminder to all that seeking out and patronizing small businesses shouldn’t be limited to a single day of the year.

“West Virginia small businesses are open for business throughout the year. It’s important that we support them through every season and not just during the holidays.”

So we say, go to the mall. We haven’t that many in southern West Virginia, but those we have are generally pretty good. And nobody can argue that a cluster of quality stores in one spot doesn’t make shopping more convenient.

All we’re saying is, make some shopping time for the little guys, too.

Don’t forget Main Street.