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Small Business Saturday encourages us to shop local

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is known as Small Business Saturday — a day that encourages people to shop at their local small businesses. Small Business Saturday was founded in 2010 as part of the Shop Small movement through American Express to encourage consumers to support small local businesses.

Though Black Friday and it's estimated 75 million shoppers will be the busiest shopping day of the year, Americans shouldn't overlook the importance of Small Business Saturday the following day. This event encourages shoppers to support their local small businesses. Small Business Saturday gives the country's small businesses a welcome boost in sales that doesn't go unnoticed.

The idea of shopping local is particularly important to the entire Park Rapids area, which relies heavily on summer season visitors to support so much of our business district. Not all of that support comes in the summer, though. Most of the local businesses keep their doors open 12 months of the year, and it's important to recognize just how vital our business community is year 'round, not just during the heavy traffic season.

It's important for everyone to make the effort to shop local in our communities. We've got great businesses, built by our hard-working neighbors, family and friends who deserve our shopping support. Look at the strong business district that stretches from one end of Park Rapids to the other. And that goes for our entire region from Osage to Menahga, Dorset to Nevis to Akeley, north to Lake George, and all the businesses — big and small — in between.

Local dollars spent locally go a long ways in helping our communities thrive.

As a Neighborhood Champion for Small Business Saturday, the Park Rapids Chamber is hosting a #ShopSmall Selfie event. Those wanting to participate simply visit participating merchants, take a selfie and post it to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the correct hashtag #LoveLocalPR and they'll be eligible to win gift cards.

"There's been a really great response from stores," says chamber president Nicole Lalum. "They really appreciate the opportunity to showcase their goods and services on a day that is nationally known for spurring awareness of the impact of small business on communities."

The Chamber didn't want to stop highlighting local businesses with just one day, however, so Stan the Shop Small Snowman Scavenger Hunt was born. (Kind of like Where's Waldo?)

Participants pick up a passport and visit the stores listed in a search for Stan the Shop Small Snowman. Once they've spotted him the store clerk signs or stamps the passport. When they've reached five stamps they can drop the passport into the store's registration box. Passports that are completely stamped will be eligible for an additional $100 in Chamber Bucks.

Stan the Shop Small Snowman will be on area business shelves starting Nov. 25 and running through Dec. 16.

The Park Rapids Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Park Rapids Enterprise and De La Hunt Broadcasting to promote all things merry and bright under the umbrella of "Heart of the Holidays." Stan the Snowman runs in conjunction with the newspaper and radio station promotions, all intended to provide incentive and encourage folks to shop locally.

The Community Tree Lighting and Yuletide Sampler this Friday, Nov. 25 is a great way to kick off the holiday season.

The Yuletide Sampler starts at 5 p.m. followed by the tree lighting at 6 p.m. This is an opportunity to browse the downtown shops and take part in what organizers call a "Norman Rockwell moment" with caroling, fires for roasting marshmallows and an introduction of the Light Up A Life hospice family.

Enjoy this holiday shopping season and don't forget to shop locally.