While Black Friday is dedicated to standing in ridiculous lines outside of big box retailers waiting for the best sales of the season, don’t forget that Saturday, Nov. 29 is dedicated to supporting your local “mom and pop” shops.

Small Business Saturday is a national initiative to improve local economies by spending a portion of holiday money locally, and Haywood County residents couldn’t ask for a better county to live in for shopping local. Local products made by local artisans can be found all around the county — downtown Waynesville, Canton, Hazelwood and Maggie Valley.

Not only do local products make for special gifts at Christmas, but also it helps improve the local economy by keeping those dollars in the county. When someone spends money at a locally owned store, that money stays in Haywood County instead of being sent out-of-state to a corporate headquarters.

Consumer spending with independent merchants during the 2013 Small Business Saturday neared $5.7 billion, according to the results of a survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

A recent forecast by consulting and financial advising firm Deloitte, US indicates that holiday shopping sales are expected to increase by as much as 4.5 percent in the 2014 season, with sales expecting to total between $981 and $986 billion.

Many organizations are helping to promote Shop Local Saturday in Haywood County, including Buy Haywood, Haywood Community College’s Small Business Center and the Downtown Waynesville Association.

“Our local independent merchants contribute to the quality of life in our community. They may be a local retail, restaurant or service based business, but they’re also the local soccer coach, altrusan, or nonprofit board member,” said Katy McLean Gould, director of the HCC Small Business Center. “The Small Business Saturday movement places the power in the hands of the consumer. Every dollar spent with an independent merchant has a direct impact on our local economy.”

Tina Masciarelli, Buy Haywood Project Coordinator, said Buy Haywood wanted to create some concrete action steps beyond the broad sweeping "Small Business Saturday" initiative by creating a challenge for shoppers. Shoppers are being asked to take a pledge on the Buy Haywood website to spend at least 10 percent of their holiday budget locally.

Masciarelli said Buy Haywood was encouraging consumers to purchase local agriculture products — Like Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon’s signature pickles and jams, or Sunburst Market’s famous smoked trout dip.

“Small Business Saturday is an opportunity for consumers to ‘purchase with a purpose’ by using their dollars to invest in the agricultural backbone of Haywood County,” she said. “Support of local agripreneurs keeps farms viable and preserves access to local products while protecting farmland and the rural character of the region.”

For more information about Buy Haywood’s Uniquely Local partners at area farms, markets, specialty retailers, farm-to-table restaurants and Christmas tree farms, visit www.buyhaywood.com.

“While it is easy for consumers to be seduced by looking for the lowest price, don’t assume that small businesses can’t compete while also delivering a uniquely local product partnered with a warm hometown experience,” Masciarelli said.

Mountain Favors, located underneath Twigs & Leaves Art Gallery in downtown Waynesville, is a great place to find something for everyone this holiday season. Owner Amy Bennington has a vast variety of Haywood County products that shoppers can pick and choose from to put together the perfect gift basket, including items from Panacea Coffee, Blue Ridge Bake Shop, Hazelwood Soap Company, Smoky Mountain Dog Bakery, Mud Dabbers and so much more.

I think shoppers should know that when they shop local, they are not only supporting Mountain Favors but also supporting 27 other local businesses and families,” she said. “All of the products I sell are made locally in Haywood County.  Mountain Favors has wonderful holiday goodies and products ready to take or I can ship your gifts for you.”

Over in Hazelwood, there are many local shopping options, including Robin Blu and Hazelwood Soap Company.

“Shoppers don't have to leave Waynesville to do their shopping for the holidays, Robin Blu is happy to help with their shopping needs and we offer free gift wrapping,” said Robin Blu owner Robanne Morris. “We love our locals and they have been so supportive of Robin Blu.”

Morris said her boutique has something for all ages. On Black Friday, shoppers will receive 25 percent off their total purchase and if they can't make it on Friday, they can receive 20 percent off on Saturday.

Diana and John Laursen, owners of Hazelwood Soap, encourage people to shop local because it keeps the money circulating within the community.

“Local business owners tend to take their own money and spend local because we know and appreciate the importance of supporting local,” Diana said. “Plus, we are usually limited on time because we are always working so we tend to run into a local market or grab a gift down the road from a fellow business.”

Diana also pointed out how heavily her family depends on the holiday revenue of the family business.

“These are the months that we make our salary. Weather, tourism and intentional local buying can make all the difference,” she said. “After eight years of being in business, we definitely feel and see the difference when folks decide to buy local.”

And the more people shop local, the more businesses are able to offer discounts to their customers, Diana said.

“Local businesses take your money and buying powers seriously. We know that you can shop anywhere, so we appreciate the time, decision and efforts folks take when shopping with us,” she said.

Ron Mills, owner of Riverview Farm & Garden, said Santa Claus will be visiting his shop after Canton's annual Christmas Parade on Thursday, Dec. 5 as a way to draw folks into town.

"We hope folks will just come out and enjoy the day," he said.

Mills said his store isn't partaking in any special deals to draw folks into the store but rather just spreading typical holiday cheer by decorating and trying to bring the community together for the holidays.

"It's not a promotion deal to get people to stand in line and buy something," he said. "We just want to welcome people to Canton. We'd love to get more focus on Main Street."

Sixty million workers in the United States are employed by small business, accounting for about half of the private sector workforce. The Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that small businesses were also the driving force for 63 percent of new net private sector jobs created between 1993 and mid-2013.  Furthermore, in the state of North Carolina 47 percent of the workforce is employed in a small business setting.

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