The tradition of gift-giving at Christmas time, it is said, dates all the way back to that first Christmas when the visiting magi came to the manger bearing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Since that time, people have celebrated the birth of the Christ child or just acknowledged the holiday season by giving gifts to their family and friends. Though there are some among us who bemoan what they consider to be the commercialization of Christmas, it is clear that the tradition of gift-giving is as old as the holiday itself.

With that in mind, we now have officially entered the Christmas buying season. You can hardly go into a store without seeing displays or hearing music all of which reminds you of the upcoming holiday.

At this time of year, we like to take some time to remind readers of the importance of supporting our local retailers during this season, as well as throughout the rest of the year.

Why should we support our local businesses? Simply put, because it benefits the community. One statistic from a study released by the Small Business Administration (SBA) states that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 stays within the local economy.

But there’s more. The SBA stated that in 2018, the last year for which numbers are available, small businesses make up more than 99% of all businesses in the country and employ nearly half (47.5%) of the country’s workers.

Conclusion: Small business is the backbone of local economies.

Small businesses also help communities, like those here in Nicollet County, thrive because of the way they help to recycle money through our communities and thus create jobs. What’s more, these businesses contribute to our area in other ways — including the ways in which they support numerous fundraisers throughout Nicollet County every year and the various ways in which their owners and employees participate in our communities. Without these businesses and the people who work there, Nicollet County would not be as vibrant as it is.

Many of these businesses receive a huge chunk of their annual revenues during the holiday shopping season. So throughout this Christmas season, we encourage your support of these businesses. We also especially encourage it on Saturday, the day that is now called Small Business Saturday.

That designation of Small Business Saturday was first used in 2010. That first year, participating retailers saw a 28 percent rise in sales. Today, in its 10th year, it promises to be even bigger.

Mind you, we’re not saying that the holidays are all about shopping. But it would be disingenuous to suggest that there is not an economic element to the season. Indeed, many retail businesses receive a huge chunk of their annual revenues from the holiday shopping season. One bad season — or even a time-shortened season, such as this year, when Thanksgiving falls on the latest date that it can fall — could be damaging to their business.

If it damages their business, it hurts us all.

We are especially fortunate to have the retail business community that we have here in Nicollet County. From the legacy shops that have graced our community for years to the just-opened shops, all of them collectively make our community a better place.

Although they are all in business to make money, they also contribute back to our area in several ways — something many already know through attending the numerous fundraisers and silent auctions held throughout our community every year.

What may not be so obvious is the fact that business owners and their employees also help on committees for non-profits, at church, at school and on fields coaching and more. And, of course, they are there with their wallets assisting groups all year round.

We are fortunate to have a generous and robust business community that allows our greater community to thrive. A difficult year for business could mean that these stalwarts will not be able to contribute to the community as they have in years past.

This makes it critical for all of us to shop locally for as many items as possible on our Christmas lists.

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