For millions of Americans, the minute the clock strikes midnight after a big Thanksgiving dinner, the Christmas shopping season begins. For many, this is highlighted by a rush to the nearest big box store early in the morning on Black Friday to beat the lines for the best discount possible.
However, this Christmas season, it is crucial that we remember to include our local small businesses in our list of shopping destinations. I recently wrote about the next Congress’s responsibilities to our American entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Still, as we approach the holidays and this weekend’s “Small Business Saturday,” it is important to remember that we, as consumers, play a role in perpetuating a vibrant and flourishing local economy.
Small businesses are the economic lifeblood of communities and employ roughly half of America’s workforce today. Their strength is a gauge of our nation’s financial well-being. Collectively, they serve as competition and a check on the growing influence and power that a handful of mega-corporations have attained in the last decade.
While corporate America seems to be solidifying its ideological and cultural groupthink, small businesses provide a genuinely diverse alternative set of employment options for tens of millions of Americans. In addition, they are a bulwark against a cultural monopoly that an economy of just the Fortune 100 would provide.
These small business entrepreneurs are living examples of the American dream. Each small business represents an American family who sacrificed their time and treasure to build something from nothing, along with a team of dedicated workers who took a chance to work for an employer with less secure prospects.
They are testaments to free-market capitalism, economic liberty and American exceptionalism. While they have been disproportionately hit by COVID-19, inflation and rising interest rates, many remain tried and true staples in their communities and give back to them by sponsoring little league teams, the local 4-H club and other community needs.
Due to their proximity to their customers, small and local businesses often provide more tailored customer service. Unlike distant or foreign conglomerates, these companies can become familiar with their clientele and innovate their goods and services through hands-on problem-solving specific to each customer — who also may be their neighbor. Try speaking to the CEO of Amazon or Wal-Mart next time you have a complaint!
While larger corporations often have the means to lobby the ears of the government, it is on American communities to advocate for their local businesses with their wallets and ensure they support businesses that provide opportunities for the American worker. Purchases at a local business go directly towards gainfully employing your neighbors and adding to the community.
Remember the local entrepreneurs in your town this Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Christmas. When I served as administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, I toured the country to see these businesses in action firsthand.
They are filled with hardworking American patriots who nourish numerous local American economies. Though they have been repeatedly knocked down over the last few years, they keep getting back up again.
This weekend, I hope Americans support them in the way they deserve.
Linda McMahon is the Chair of the Board and Chair of the Center for the American Worker at the America First Policy Institute. She previously served as the Administrator of the Small Business Administration.
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