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Shop ‘small’ on Small Business Saturday and throughout the holidays | READER COMMENTARY

Tiara Beser and daughter Siena, 5, shop for hand-made and scented soap at Mount Royal Soap Co. in Baltimore. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun).
Tiara Beser and daughter Siena, 5, shop for hand-made and scented soap at Mount Royal Soap Co. in Baltimore. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun). (Kenneth K. Lam)

The leaves are turning, the air is crisp and to-do lists are growing. Our thoughts turn to family gatherings, holiday traditions and festivities. It’s time to celebrate each other and the perfect opportunity to show appreciation for local entrepreneurs.

Small businesses need our support now more than ever. Head out on Small Business Saturday (Nov. 27) to “shop small” and local for the holidays. Small businesses offer a wide variety of unique gifts, services and experiences with unmatched customer service.

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Why does shopping “small” matter? Small businesses are vital to the Maryland economy (”Supply chain woes won’t ruin a brighter holiday season this year,” Nov. 9). According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, small businesses account for 99.5% of all Maryland businesses and employ nearly half of the workforce in the state. They are the cornerstones of our neighborhoods, provide jobs and give back to their communities. To put it in perspective, for every $100 you spend at a locally-owned business, roughly $68 stays in your local economy.

Many towns across the state are hosting special events with retailers offering discounts and refreshments to entice shoppers to Maryland’s main streets for a special shopping experience. While you may still be cautious of in-person shopping, most retailers have embraced e-commerce and many now offer curbside service for online or phone orders. It’s also a great time to “dine local” and pick-up carry-out or visit a local eatery once you’ve had your fill of Thanksgiving leftovers.

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Entrepreneurs, know that the SBA stands ready to assist you. We offer a variety of programs to help you start, grow or rebuild your small business. Options include access to capital, free one-on-one counseling, training and government contracting assistance. There is a wealth of information at sba.gov, including details on all SBA programs, holiday marketing tips and more.

‘Tis the season to be thankful and to enjoy quality time and precious moments with family and friends. Show your thanks for small businesses who add so much to our communities and support them by shopping and dining “small” throughout the holiday season and well into the new year. Local entrepreneurs deserve our support as they navigate, retool and pivot from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Let’s show them we’re all in this together.

Steve Umberger, Baltimore

The writer is district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Baltimore District Office.

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