This season’s push to shop local

With the holiday season, comes the campaign to shop local.

The push is in full force, with a nod to Small Business Saturday, and extends well into December.

After two years of pandemic holidays when people spent more dollars online, shoppers are back in force in stores and at holiday markets. It’s a welcome trend for small businesses and downtowns alike, having navigated supply chain issues, rising costs and other challenges.

“Nearly 40 Long Island downtowns have Shop Local and Small Business Saturday events, promotions and holiday activities so it’s now “Small Business Season,” Eric Alexander, the founder of LI Main Street Alliance, said in written statement to LIBN.

“With economic headwinds due to inflation and winter energy costs it’s more important than ever to support your independent local businesses,” he said.

On Long Island, the effort includes leaders from local chambers of commerce and government. The campaign to shop local is recognized in communities across the country.

Small Business Saturday got its start from American Express in 2010 amid the recession. Its message to bring shoppers to small businesses has resonated ever since.

“Small Business Saturday is economic patriotism at its best – a day when buying gifts for your loved ones or visiting a locally-owned restaurant supports jobs and builds thriving communities,” Bridget Weston said in a statement. Weston is CEO of SCORE, a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration with a network of volunteer business mentors supporting small business owners.

In the Town of North Hempstead, for example, officials say that for every $100 spent locally, about $70 stays in in the community. In the town’s Port Washington hamlet, for example, leaders are ready to welcome shoppers, who during the holiday season, won’t have to worry about “feeding the meter.”

“Port Washington is such a magical place, especially during the holiday season,” Town Council Member Mariann Dalimonte said in a statement. “We will once again temporarily suspend parking fees in Port Washington to help encourage residents to support our local shops and restaurants.”

She  pointed out that “supporting local businesses can make a positive impact on the whole community. This includes creating jobs, helping local organizations, and of course supporting the business owners that make Port Washington so amazing.”

Efforts promote a sense of community. For example, there are festivities at the upcoming “Black Friday Fun” at Stony Brook Village Center, which offers an abundance of shops, restaurants, and nearby, the newly opened Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame, among other venues. The village center event will feature carolers, live music, and a petting zoo from 2-4 p.m.

For Keith Hall, president and CEO of National Association for the Self-Employed, which offers grant programs sponsored by AARP and Dell, the shop small campaign is a chance to applaud entrepreneurial ingenuity and perseverance.

“From weathering a devastating pandemic to combating uncertain economic times, America’s small businesses represent the true entrepreneurial spirit of our nation,” he said in a statement. “During the same time, we have seen a surge in new small businesses opening across all demographics, including older entrepreneurs who are opening a new small business after retirement and continue with an existing small business.”