Shamokin’s annual Downtown Christmas, created and organized by the Northumberland County Council for the Arts, is next Saturday. One week after that, Mount Carmel Downtown Inc. begins its new “Christmas on Oak” holiday celebration. In Trevorton, Kulpmont, Sunbury, Elysburg and other local communities, the holidays will once again be a time for celebrations “downtown.”

With all that is being done by business owners and volunteers through these events, today it’s time for shoppers to do their part. Today is the ninth annual nationwide Small Business Saturday, and it’s a great opportunity to celebrate and support our downtowns.

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Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 by American Express to help small businesses that were struggling from the economic recession.

It has caught on, to say the least. American Express and the National Federation of Independent Businesses say that 90 percent of consumers surveyed said the event has had a positive impact on their communities. And in the first eight years of Small Business Saturday, U.S. customers have reported spending an estimated $85 billion at independent retailers and restaurants.

Those who don’t believe these statistics apply locally should think otherwise. Local businesses have been participating in Small Business Saturday since the first year, and this year several dozen local businesses have advertised specials for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday in this newspaper over the past week. As our promotion encouraged, “Put your money where your HOUSE is! Shop local.”

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Remember that support of local businesses also means more local tax generation through sales, business, employment and income taxes. It makes a difference.

A renewed focus locally on downtowns, combined with promotions such as Small Business Saturday and a revived national economy, create the perfect opportunity to find great holiday gifts close to home. To borrow from the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area’s off-road riding event a few weeks ago, let’s “take it to the streets” again today for Small Business Saturday.

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