Shopping small is a big deal

Shoppers Cathy Michael, center, and Marilyn Gardner, right, talk with shop owner Brandi Howard about shoe styles while shopping at Andee's Boutique in March 2017 in Hermiston.

You know the drill.

Before your Thanksgiving meal is even fully digested, you’ve already got a dozen sales circulars spread out on the coffee table touting unbelievable deals, doorbusters, or holiday savings!

Determined to fulfill your capitalistic duty, you make a strategic plan to leave the house before dawn in order to be in line at Big Box Store X in time for the doors to open and purchase that certain gadget or gizmo at an insanely low price before supplies run out.

Over the past few decades, “Black Friday” shopping has become just as much a part of our annual Thanksgiving ritual as the turkey and stuffing. Bricks-and-mortar retail establishments and now, online business models, largely depend on this annual eruption of consumerism to determine their financial fortunes for the year.

In fact, competition for holiday spending has become so fierce over the past decade that Black Friday often begins on Thanksgiving Day itself, if not sooner.

With few “big box” choices to choose from in Umatilla or Morrow counties, this means many Oregonians will be crossing the big river this weekend to fill their SUVs with wares from retailers in the Tri-Cities or Walla Walla.

No need to apologize. There is no shame. We all do it. But now seems as good a time as any to be reminded of why we choose to live in small towns like Hermiston, Umatilla, Boardman, Pendleton, Milton-Freewater and Pilot Rock. No, we may not have the big national chain stores. But we are surrounded here in northeast Oregon by dozens upon dozens of local “mom & pop” retail and eating establishments owned by our friends and neighbors.

These stores often cater to their customers in ways the big national chains simply can’t or won’t. They know their inventory and they often know their customers by name. If good old-fashioned customer service is what you’re after, you will likely find it at the little shop or restaurant just down the street.

So, after you’ve fully recovered from the mayhem at the mall or the brouhaha at the big box retailer this Black Friday, take time to consider supporting a local mom & pop shop during Small Business Saturday.

You’ll find the pace is slower, but the interaction genuine, and you may even find just that perfect gift item and make new friends in the process.

Remember, it’s very likely when you “Shop Small” that you’ll discover that your kids go to school with their kids, they’re in your Rotary, Lions or Altrusa club, and they’re likely dues-paying members of the same local chamber of commerce. They’re also the ones supporting the local school cheerleading team or marching band fundraiser.

Since Small Business Saturday started in 2010, U.S. customers have reported spending an estimated total of $85 billion at independent retailers and restaurants. Some of that was spent right here in Eastern Oregon.

When you invest your dollars by shopping at a local establishment, you’re actually helping your town, your schools, and your community to become stronger.

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