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Op-ed: Now is the time to shop small and support local

It’s that time of year again when we are constantly reminded and encouraged to shop local and support small businesses; however, this year, we need to double down on that message. Not only is there an opportunity to help small businesses and retain money locally, but we have the opportunity to save our small businesses and our downtowns.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, business owners have struggled to overcome regulations and restrictions. Whether we agree with those restrictions or not, we have seen that our local business owners, time-and-time-again have been resilient and braved the unknown to not only provide for their families, but to enrich our lives and the livelihoods of our communities. Think about your favorite local eatery or gift shop. Think of the smiles you see when you walk into their store. Do they call you by name? More than likely. Do they know your parents or grandparents? Probably so. These are the experiences that small businesses offer us and the impacts they have on our lives. 
We have seen our business community making accommodations and innovation to be able to continue their service to our communities more than ever throughout this year, from drive thru services, curbside pickup, delivery, outdoor dining, pop-up shops, expanding to online markets, and more. For that, we applaud them, and we thank them. Our communities are much stronger and livelier because of their contributions.
As Fivestars notes, there are six great reasons to support small businesses: Small businesses give back to your community, they have a major economic impact, provide great customer service, provide greater access to product diversity, create a sense of community, and just make you feel better about purchasing.
It's great to support any and all local businesses in your communities, and the Southeast Kentucky Chamber wants to encourage you to keep your money here in the region this holiday season. Support your local, small businesses just as they have supported you.

Jordan Gibson, Southeast Kentucky Chamber President and CEO

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