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Shop Local

Small businesses are the backbone of the state’s economy

By Maggie Doherty

Now that superhero costumes and Halloween decorations are packed away, the seasonal shift wends toward the upcoming holidays, with plans about the Thanksgiving meal and travel arrangements leading the conversation. How much variation on the family dinner will be allotted versus the hotly debated which is better: smoked or roasted turkey are all conversations I’m having with my family. Like every autumn my brother lobs the “I’ll be out hunting” excuse so we can’t rely on him even though he’s the one who used to be a professional chef. He’s quickly forgiven when we’re invited to dine on elk backstraps.

The holiday season is also dominated by holiday gift-giving. Here’s your annual reminder: smoked turkey is far superior to any variation of wet/dry brine and roasting, and when you shop whether it’s for presents or food, go local. Shopping local is an investment in your community and across the Flathead Valley, from food purveyors to artists, we have a bounty of local businesses and shops that’ll top your list.

In 2010 the credit card company American Express started what is now known as a uniquely American holiday: Small Business Saturday, which typically occurs the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The promotion was designed to shift focus away from the Black Friday deals that many big box and chain retailers offer, corporations that can afford to slash prices at the expense of what a small, locally owned business can reasonably offer. When much of the holiday’s shopping season kicks off before pumpkin pie is served after turkey and gravy, Small Business Saturday is a great way to keep your dollars local and provide a renewed focus on the many important contributions our independent businesses provide across the Flathead.

While some major retailers online can discount big-ticket items like a laptop or super cool TV, the benefits of supporting small businesses to the local economy and community relations outweigh any steep and cheap discount. Small businesses are the backbone of the state’s economy by providing local tax revenue and job creation. According to a 2022 Small Business Association report, small businesses employ a quarter-million people. These businesses, whether they’re grooming your pet or stocking your winter gear also make significant donations to causes and charities that touch lives across the spectrum of our communities. We can return the favor by forging the allure of the cheap online corporate thrill by purchasing locally, which again supports the tax base, encourages local jobs, and keeps our downtowns thriving. Plus, so many of our local shops offer uniquely Montana items like huckleberry jams or photography of Glacier’s most iconic locales, making gift-giving almost too easy because Montana is practically Taylor Swift popular.

It’s also a more sustainable option, and in the coming weeks towns across the Flathead offer a lineup of events, open houses, and craft bazaars highlighting the different businesses, artisans, and restaurants that make our community shine, no matter the time of year.

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