One of the things visitors love about coming to the Sun Valley area is becoming acquainted with the proprietors and managers of local businesses. When visitors walk in, they are not strangers, but friends who’ve been absent for a bit.

It’s the same thing local residents take for granted, while complaining about prices and selection, but failing to focus on immediate access and the quality of merchandise or services.

We know just two things for sure. First, living costs money. Second, if visitors and residents don’t spend in local businesses, those businesses won’t be around to enjoy.

A 10-year-old American Express campaign made this Saturday known as Small Business Saturday. The campaign encourages people to shop small and shop local.

Small businesses, coffee shops, restaurants and small retailers are the beating hearts of the towns along the Wood River. Their owners and managers—the Janes, Joes, Johns, Pedros and Pilars—are the smiling faces that greet every customer.

They know well that customers vote for their continued success every time they spend a dollar with them. American Express says that for every dollar spent with a small business, 67 cents stays in the local community.

The economy travels a circular path. Money injected creates jobs. Jobs create spending. Spending creates businesses that create jobs. When the circle is broken, businesses and towns wither and die.

The lure of out-of-area big-box stores and online purchases is undeniable, but it makes sense to support local businesses first. They provide jobs and benefits. They are the ones to whom residents turn for support of local organizations, events and charities. The businesses give generously, but to keep that going, shoppers need to shop generously.

Saturday is the day to continue support or to begin it anew. The reward will come in knowing that shopping local will keep our towns alive, energetic and interesting

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