On Black Friday you may have spent some of your hard earned dollars on the deals offered by big box stores, but today — Small Business Saturday — is the day to support your local community. Small businesses provide the majority of jobs in communities across America and are fueling the drive to leave the recession behind.

Shop Etsy online for unique gifts like Rosemary Salt from the elliebluebell shop -- support independent craftspeople
Shop Etsy online for unique gifts like Rosemary Salt from the elliebluebell shop -- support independent craftspeople - photo by Valentina Vitols

It’s likely you know about independent retailers in your community, but if you need help deciding where to shop, we’ve got a few ideas you might not have considered. Shopping local for Small Business Saturday doesn’t just mean finding retail stores and doing holiday gift shopping, although merchants would appreciate that as well. Think outside the box…

Independent businesses include:

Restaurants – have lunch or dinner at a local establishment

Bars – hello, happy hour

Farmers Markets – many communities hold year round farmers markets and shopping local doesn’t get any closer to home

Auto Shops – maybe today is a good day to get your tires rotated or oil changed at a locally owned garage. Some shops offer gift certificates, which is a terrific idea for holiday gifts. One of the best gifts I’ve ever received was a gift card from a local shop that covered my maintenance expenses for the next year

Beauty – what better day to treat yourself to a mani/pedi?

Pet Services – for that matter, doesn’t your pooch deserve a little grooming?

Still need ideas? American Express started the movement — although you certainly don’t have to shop only at places that accept the AE card, the movement has grown beyond that — and has a page that shows who supports the movement around the country, including small business groups and convention & tourism bureaus.

Nearly every local media outlet has written something about the local merchants who are looking forward to Small Business Saturday. Go to Google and type in “Where to Shop in (your city) on Small Business Saturday”

Check Yelp. With dozens of categories of local businesses micro-targeted at your neighborhood, you’re pretty sure to find some place new that deserves your business.

Lastly, if you don’t want to, or can’t, leave your home, shop Etsy online. You will be buying directly from independent artists, jewelers, crafters and entrepreneurs.

Keep in mind the message currently on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page — Think big, shop small.

Culture Where to Shop Local on Small Business Saturday