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In 2010, American Express used social media to encourage people across the country to “shop small,” as in, patronizing local, brick-and-mortar businesses and restaurants in their communities during the Saturday in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Now in its 10th year, Small Business Saturday has become as big as ever.

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“There’s no comparison to any other day of the year, not just sales and traffic-wise, but we get more phone calls, see more faces in town we’ve never seen before," Alex Gordon, manager of Joseph’s Department Store in Havre de Grace, told us.

Nationwide, the numbers seem to back that up.

During last year's Small Business Saturday, 104 million shoppers spent a record high of $17.8 billion, according to the 2018 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, produced by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business.

This a great news for local economies and workers.

The Small Business Economic Impact Study, a county-level analysis on shopping locally commissioned by American Express, showed that if U.S. small businesses — those that employ fewer than 100 people — were a country, they would have a gross domestic product of $4.8 trillion! That’s on par with Japan, the third largest economy in the world.

And when you buy local, more of the money stays local. The same study found that approximately two-thirds of every dollar spent at a small business stays within the community and, on average, it creates an additional 50 cents in economic impacts locally. That money translates wages for employees and tax dollars that pay for roads and schools.

It also creates more jobs. The same study found that, in addition to small businesses directly employing members of the community, spending by those companies and their employees supports other local jobs. For every 10 jobs at a small business, seven others are supported in the local community.

A 2017 study commissioned by the Harford County Office of Community & Economic Development found that if every household in Harford County chose to shop small year round, it would create an estimated 3,438 new jobs, more than $105 million in wages, and more than $23.5 million in state and local revenue to be invested back into the community each year.

“Small business owners support their families, add local jobs, and grow our economy,” County Executive Barry Glassman said. “They are also among our most generous donors to local nonprofits. The bottom line is shopping small is big for Harford County.”

If that isn't enough to convince you to support your local business this weekend, perhaps the specials and discounts they are offering will be.

Many of the store owners and managers we talked to were offering great deals, and quite a few offer unique merchandise that you probably won't be able to find at big box retailers like Walmart or Target, or e-commerce sites like Amazon.

So take a break from the Black Friday madness and save your shopping energy for the small businesses that are the backbone of our economy this Saturday, Nov. 30.

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