‘Tis the season for shopping and however frivolous that activity is, lately it has attracted advocates on all sides and has drawn a lot of energy. The big question on the Internet is: should we shop on Thanksgiving just because some stores will be open? It makes no difference to me. I actually think it could save a few families. Debates about potatoes and gravy styles can escalate pretty quickly to deeper issues. If someone can get out of the house and take their frustrations out at Walmart, I think that’s just dandy! Avoidance might not be a recommended therapy, however, Thanksgiving is not the day to deal with every old hurt you can muster.
The shopping festivities continue on Friday with the traditional Black Friday sales, which now last weeks and even the whole month. Even so, I have friends who live for door-buster deals and it is as much a part of their family traditions as marshmallows on their sweet potatoes. 
This Saturday is American Express’ Shop Small Day! I laugh—no, I guffaw––that American Express is the big beast behind Shopping Small. Think about that. American Express is anything but small and whether they are promoting you to use your AmEx on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, or Shop Small Saturday, they still benefit with their merchant fees, annual membership fees, and any interest on balances not paid. Yes, American Express offers $10 back on $10 purchases up to three times on Shop Small Saturday at participating merchants. I wonder how many new cards they issue for this event with an annual fee of $55. It’s easy to recognize it’s worth their while, as they are still $25 ahead just in the membership fee. I think that if you are vowing to Shop Small, then do the merchant a real favor and use cash.
This Shop Small movement is one more way the pendulum has swung. I remember the debates here in Long Beach in the 1990s when Downtown was being redeveloped. The outcry was for flagship merchants that would transform Pine Ave. into a destination shopping row. Specifically, they wanted a Nordstrom. Well, we got a Nordstrom Rack and a Walmart—demographics matter and a “build it and they will come” mentality did not win out. The developer did get a Z Gallerie and a Pottery Barn Outlet, but where are those now?
If today’s trend is boutique, that’s great, but don’t argue that big retailers contribute less to the community’s bottom line than small businesses. I’m certain you can come up with an argument with an example of a small business that you love. Let’s be clear, I’m not speaking of ALL SMALL BUSINESSES; I’m talking about RETAILERS. A job at Target is as valuable as a job at Bonnie’s Boutique—they both are going to pay minimum wage or close to it. The difference is that the employee of a large retailer likely receives a discount––a non-taxable benefit that can really aid an employee’s buying power.  
There’s an array of articles online––many from business magazines––that say that small business is where it’s at. Even Goldman-Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program wants to help small businesses get a leg-up for growth. They focus on existing small businesses, not start-ups, and the key words are for growth. The truth is that small businesses want to be larger. What Forbesand other outlets say is that small businesses hire other small local businesses as part of their teams that sparks the small business engine. Services like CPAs, bookkeepers, janitors, etc. are needed by other small businesses. But let’s be honest, this is only during the building years of their businesses. Once they are larger, they will hire an in-house bookkeeper, eventually they’ll need a CFO––it’s just part of business growth. In a time when the L.A. Times and others are removing set employee paid vacation and sick days, I think the playing field has been leveled and all jobs are equal regardless where you work. Business is tough and only the tough survive.

My opinion is that by shopping you are helping the economy, period. So go shop anywhere you want, when you want, and have no shame.

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