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Editorial: Shop Locally …

Small business Saturday isn't enough; don't wait until then, and don't stop after that.

An effort to support locally owned businesses has resulted in the recognition of Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year that is Nov. 24. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is a day of national zeal for shopping. Presumably the next day shoppers can focus on local shopping.

It sounds like an obligation, and it is. But there is a joy to shopping in local stores at the holidays, to walking along a sidewalk with the streets decked out for the holidays, to being greeting by someone likely to be the owner of the store, to finding gifts that are not mass-produced.

We all benefit when local stores thrive, when local business districts beckon.

Locally owned retail shops, services, restaurants depend on vibrant local communities to thrive. Most small, locally owned businesses invest in community, helping to transform our towns and communities with a sense of place.

Supporting small businesses, locally owned businesses, has to be more than a one-day affair.

The economy continues to improve slowly without inspiring. But still, local families will shop and exchange gifts during the next month, spending tens of millions of dollars in a variety of places.

One way to be sure holiday shopping comes with some holiday spirit is to do a portion of your shopping in some of the area's locally owned stores. There is special holiday ambiance available by shopping in the heart of a town that is decked out for the season. Small retail shops are part of defining any community. Their livelihood depends on the livability and quality of the neighborhoods around them. A small business owner pays attention to every detail in his or her business in a way that no chain can.

Frequently, it is the small retail person who is active in fundraising for local charities, for fire and rescue service, for local schools and in organizing holiday events.

Local retail stores, mom-and-pop stores, face tough challenges right now. Competition from big box stores and online sellers makes the holiday shopping season all the more important to locally-owned retailers.

Everyone will do some of their shopping at the mall. Everyone will do some shopping online. But local shoppers should be sure to save some shopping time and dollars for local stores. Spend some time shopping in your own community, and also plan an excursion to a nearby town to check out the local businesses and holiday spirit there.

— Mary Kimm, mkimm@connectionnewspapers.com

… Give Locally

Poverty and homelessness are sometimes hard to see in Northern Virginia, but there is no shortage of families in need locally, especially at the holidays. Here are some of the local organizations ready to help, and in need of your help. Financial contributions are always preferred.

In Arlington, Where To Give Locally

Arlingtonians Meeting Emergency Needs (AMEN) provides one-time, same-day emergency financial assistance to Arlington residents facing a financial crisis, and also has programs to help prevent homelessness. 703-558-0035 www.emergencyneed...>

Doorways for Women and Families provides services to help women out of domestic violence and homelessness toward safe and stable lives, Arlington www.doorwaysva.org 703-504-9400

The Arlington Food Assistance Center provides supplemental food assistance to Arlington County residents, on average serving 3,500 adults and 1,500 children a week. 2708 South Nelson Street, Arlington, VA 22206 http://www.afac.org/ 703-845-8486

Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia, Arlington, 703-521-9890

Arlington Free Clinic provides medical care for low-income, uninsured adults in Arlington. www.arlingtonfree... 2921 11th St. South * Arlington, VA 22204 703-979-1425

Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless, 703-525-7177, www.aachhomeless....>

A-SPAN provides services for Arlington's street homeless. Our mission is to secure permanent housing for one of Arlington's most vulnerable populations. P.O. Box 100731 Arlington, VA 22210 703-820-4357 http://www.a-span...