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Support small businesses during holiday season

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GUEST EDITORIAL

By KATHY COLE, Galax

As you plan your holiday season and gift-giving, consider the impact of the dollars you will spend. While we only go to the polls with our one vote every year or so, we vote with our dollars every day for the kind of community we want.
When we spend our money in other cities, online or at national chain stores, we make it harder for local merchants and business owners to stay in business.
Research shows that, on average, a dollar spent at a local business returns 67 cents to the community, while the same dollar spent at a chain store returns only 43 cents. For instance, the money you spend at a locally-owned business might go for rent to the building owner, who gives it to the handyman who worked at his home, who uses it to buy groceries at the local store and so on.
Your dollars multiply as they become income for several people.
If everyone in the Twin Counties spent just half their Christmas budget at locally-owned stores, we would provide our own recession recovery!
The Saturday after Thanksgiving has been nationally recognized this year as Small Business Saturday, and local merchants and businesses will be ready to help you delight those on your Christmas list while you also improve their bottom lines.  
I can hear some of you protesting that you can’t find what you want at local stores.  For that child with his heart set on a particular toy, that may be true. But does your brother really need another flannel shirt?  Or would he rather have a gift certificate for an oil change, or nitrogen for his tires?  
How about gift certificates to a favorite restaurant?  Or an article of clothing custom-embroidered that is truly unique?  From grocery gift certificates to yoga classes, local stores are full of practical as well as whimsical gift ideas.
And for that truly hard-to-please person on your list, Downtown Galax gift certificates are available at the Visitors Center for $10 or $25.  
All of us need to step up and realize that our local economy is what we make it.  If downtown seems deserted, it will be less deserted if you are there, shopping, eating or taking your daily walk.
If stores have limited inventory, they will be able to expand it if you give them your business.
Just as a “dying” downtown is a self-fulfilling prophecy, so is a lively, thriving downtown. Let’s do that on Small Business Saturday — come downtown and make Galax the fun, family-friendly place we want it to be.