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Support your local business community by doing your holiday shopping at local merchants. Here are some ways to make shopping small a priority this holiday season.

Small Business SaturdayWhat better ways to celebrate the diversity, uniqueness and creativity of independent, local businesses than by supporting them during the busiest shopping season of the year?

Plaid Friday was conceptualized in Oakland, California, several years ago to encourage holiday shoppers to slow down and shop locally at small businesses rather than partake in the frenzy of the traditional Black Friday rush at big-box retailers. Similarly, Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express in 2010 as a community-centric day to support local businesses. Small Business Saturday was the catalyst for the generalized Shop Small movement, encouraging consumers to patronize small businesses.

Local businesses are at the heart of their communities. In a 2015 survey by the Urban and Land Institute, researchers found that more than half of respondents said they wanted a neighborhood where they wouldn't need a car very often. More than 40 percent specifically noted the desirability of local shopping and entertainment as the main features. A neighborhood with a Main Street or thriving local shopping hub can be a big draw. Consumers make these neighborhoods a reality.

Every time they grab a coffee from a local café, purchase a piece of artwork from a neighborhood artist, or dine at a family-run restaurant, shoppers support local business owners and strengthen their communities. Here are some ways to make shopping small a priority this holiday season.

Take inventory of Plaid Friday and Small Business Saturday sales by keeping up on local social media. Build holiday shopping lists around the offerings at local businesses.

Dine out at local restaurants or shop at smaller food merchants.

Visit a local tree farm. When decorating for the holidays, support the farm or local nursery that grows Christmas trees and makes their own wreaths and garlands.

Keep your money in your community at a local bank or credit union rather than a large national bank. Local banks may have special promotions to boost savings for holiday gifting.

The holiday season is the perfect time to support small, local businesses.

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