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Photo by Katie Pinke

PINKE: Black Friday shopping? Choose presence over presents.

Do you have the Black Friday ads in front of you, plotting the best sales after Thanksgiving? Or, maybe you’re holding out for Cyber Monday deals. What about Small Business Saturday? It’s easy to get caught up in the first-world shopping headlines and buzz of the season and put more value on presents rather than presence. As a small-business owner in a rural community, if customers within a 100-mile radius start supporting Menards or Lowe’s, Pinke Homes or Pinke Lumber wouldn’t exist in Wishek, N.D. I also know when I support other small businesses my community and state flourish. Where you and I spend our money matters.

If I only focus on presents this season, it’s easier for me to order using my phone or iPad. I don’t have to leave my rural home. I save time and gas and can shop any time of day. With free shipping, it shows up within days at my house.

Taking the time to be present in my small town and surrounding communities and shop at small businesses, and even choosing to shop in larger towns instead of online, gives communities a boost and supports local jobs and families. My presence shows small businesses owners I appreciate them and support their business. Business owners and employees are depending on us this season. You and I can set an example.

I like shopping online from my home—and there are ways to support small businesses when doing so. If I can buy online from a small business through Etsy that’s my preference over a big box store. However, spending an hour in the Wishek Western Shop letting my daughters pick out flannel shirts, sweaters and hats for the favorite men in their lives beats online shopping any day. We’ve created memories together by enjoying each other’s presence at Christmas. The girls remember the time we spent Christmas shopping more than the actual presents.

By resisting the urge to exclusively shop online I’ve learned I enjoy strolling along main streets of small towns visiting store fronts and finding treasures I wouldn’t find on a Top 100 gift list on Amazon. I love attending the Pride of Dakota holiday showcases and finding locally made gifts. I love buying gift cards for friends and family that allow them to support their favorite small-town businesses. I’m always eager to support friends who sell items or products you won’t find in a storefront. Sure, it takes more time but again, my presence outweighs the presents.

Recently, I asked for Christmas shopping ideas via my personal and blog Facebook pages and conducted an informal poll asking what percentage of your budget do you spend online versus local. Most spend a majority online, but the ones who shop at small businesses, stroll downtown with family and friends and carve out time for their presence over presents were intentional about their spending.

I also love the idea of less is more with gifts. Again, share more of your time and less of your money. One book, one toy or game, and one clothing item for each child coupled with your presence is so much more meaningful than buying all 10 items on their wish list.

The only Black Friday shopping I did in past years was in Dickinson, N.D., when visiting my sister. Really, we decided to go more for the entertainment. The lines at Herberger’s were enough for me to know I wasn’t cut out to be a Black Friday shopper.

If I want my community and state to flourish, even through hard economic times, I must spend where I need others to spend to support our family’s business.

If you spend 10% more of your holiday budget at three small businesses, you can make a difference that changes your community. My goal is to spend at least 75% of my holiday money at local small businesses, 25% at big box stores with online my last resort. It’s a challenge. But stuff is stuff. Presence means more than presents.

Happy small business shopping!

Editor’s note: Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. Connect with her on email kpinke@agweek.com.

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