Shoppers could spend about $362 million more in Alabama during the holidays compared to one year ago, according to the Alabama Retail Association, but the biggest question is, how much of that spending is done locally?

The nation’s 10th annual Small Business Saturday is Nov. 30, and it could be the community’s most important day of the year. While Alabamians are expected to buy more than $12.4 billion in goods statewide, it’s crucial for local businesses and their communities to see the majority of those dollars stay close to home.

“Shopping local helps your neighbor put food on the table and a roof over their head,” Albertville Chamber of Commerce President Stan Witherow said. “When we spend locally, we keep our tax dollars local as well. This, in turn, improves our city and the quality of life for all.”

According to a 2014 study by the research firm Civic Economics, for every $100 spent in a local small business, $68 stays in the community. For every $100 spent at a local branch of a chain store, $43 remains in the community. Online, virtually no money stays local.

From funding capital improvements and paving streets to a mom and pop store being able to support school programs, Misty Burgess, owner of Allie and Me Boutique in Boaz, said shopping locally means a lot to the community.

“[Shopping locally] means supporting families, helping young adults through college, supporting local schools, teams and contributing to the community through tax revenue.”

It’s also imperative to support local businesses because, in most cases, those local businesses are the only ones who will support you, Burgess said.

“When you need a donation for your church, school or team, you always call on small businesses first,” Burgess said. “And they donate, even when they probably don’t have the budget to do so. But they do it anyway because they hope that you have, or will at some point, give back by shopping with them.”

Many shoppers are susceptible to being fooled by big box stores in metropolitan areas. While some might think they have a one-of-a-kind selections that can’t be found anywhere else, Burgess said it’s a safe bet that stores like her own have exactly what a shopper is looking for; recognizing that helps the community thrive.

“Small businesses cater to the customers needs,” Burgess said. “We strive to provide you with the best customer service, the most unique selection and the latest trends. Shop local first, and then if you can’t find what you’re looking for, venture out.”

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