Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving, is the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season, but it's the next day, Small Business Saturday, that really puts me in the holiday spirit.
That's because Small Business Saturday, which falls on Nov. 25 this year, isn't about getting up before dawn, fighting traffic, jostling with crowds and standing in long lines to save a few bucks on things no one asked for.
Small Business Saturday is a day to celebrate and support the small, family-run businesses that do so much throughout the year to support our community.
The campaign to "shop small" on the Saturday after Thanksgiving began in 2010 to help small businesses that were struggling to recover from the last recession.
Since then, it has grown into a powerful movement to give back to the businesses that keep our communities vibrant.
The idea is simple: Instead of sitting at home and ordering online or driving to the nearest shopping center or big-box store, you shop at small, locally-owned businesses for things you simply can't find at the mall.
And instead of dealing with temporary workers who don't know the merchandise, you're likely to deal directly with the owner, who has a vested interest not only in selling you something that day but in making you want to come back time and again throughout the year.
And like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday comes with its own deals and discounts.
Shoppers are wising up to Small Business Saturday. Last year, an estimated 112 million people reporting shopping at small businesses on Small Business Saturday, a 13-percent increase from the year before, according to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express.
Among those who shopped on last year's Small Business Saturday, 32 percent reported attending a community event while 81 percent encouraged friends and family to shop or dine at small, independently-owned businesses.
That level of support is having a real impact in our communities. State-specific numbers aren't available, but, nationwide, shoppers spent an estimated $15.4 billion independent stores and restaurants on last year's Small Business Saturday.
That's money that, for the most start, stays in the community.