The holiday season is upon us and that means shopping, shopping and more shopping! While Black Friday ushers in the holiday season for most of us, waiting an extra day can benefit your wallet…and your community. Small Business Saturday, observed on November 27th this year, is the small retailers answer to the big box store and online shopping moguls.

As you may already know, the benefits of shopping locally far outweigh any reasons you may choose to shop at a big box retailer or chain store, even financial ones. Of course, the main reason for keeping as much of your spending at home as possible is the overall effect on our local economy. As much as 68% of money spent at a hometown retailer will go back into the community in the form of jobs for neighbors and friends and donations to your favorite kid’s sports team.

While we thought 2020 with COVID lockdowns and restrictions was a difficult year, 2021 has also presented its own unique challenges, especially with shortages of goods that promise to directly affect our holiday purchasing.

These nationwide supply shortages are going to limit the availability of many of the items we want to purchase for the holiday season. In most cases, however, local retailers are already stocked and waiting for you to stop in and see them. If they can’t get what you are looking for, they will likely have good ideas for alternatives and maybe even something better!

Local retailers work with local suppliers. In many cases this includes local artisans who make a variety of products from apparel to art. By purchasing these products, you are stretching your local dollars even further. Not to mention, you are going to be giving your loved ones a unique gift, not something mass produced and commonly available.

While you might see a better price online, shopping locally gives you more value for your dollar. Local merchants live and die by word of mouth advertising and online reviews so you are far more likely to receive superior customer service when dealing with them.

In addition, more and more of our local shops are offering additional services to make shopping more convenient including online shopping, free local shipping or delivery and quick pick-up at their store.

One of the best reasons to shop locally, however, is the very real connection you get within your own community. Shop owners are experts on the products they sell. They can give you free advice and information to help you make an informed decision. Another plus for keeping your dollars local…it’s better for the environment. There is less packaging and shipping waste involved when purchasing locally made and sourced products.

Because the pandemic gave us all renewed appreciation for how hard our local business owners and their employees work, many of us did elect to shop locally in 2020. In fact, a record 19.8 billion dollars was spent shopping and dining locally last year.

The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce is planning a special “Keep the Cheer Here!” Shop Local campaign for Saturday, November 27, 2021 and is inviting all of their members to get involved! Watch their website and Facebook page after November 10th for a complete listing of all deals offered to community members on Small Business Saturday.

Merchants in the town of Oakland are also preparing some discounts for local shoppers, some of which can be found in their ad on page 56.

Until then, be sure to check out the Mountain Fresh Winter Farmers Markets to be held at the Mt. Fresh Pavilion in downtown Oakland on November 6 and 20 from 11 AM to 1 PM. In addition to fresh produce and meats, these markets also feature handmade crafts, gifts and more. There will be special extended hours the weekend after Thanksgiving, with a special market being held Friday and Saturday, November 26 & 27. Visit for more information.

There will also be a craft and vendor show on Sunday, November 21 at the Southern Rescue Squad from noon to 6 PM hosted by Freedom Factory. A variety of local vendors and craftspeople will be on hand, and food and drink will be available for purchase.

On Saturday, November 27, the Pleasant Valley Annual Holiday Bazaar will be held at 975 Joni Miller Road in Oakland from 9 AM to 3 PM. Holiday shopping will be available with vendors and crafters offering a variety of cash and carry items along with gift certificates and more.

Next month, we will feature our Annual Shopping Guide for those harder to buy for people on your list, but for now, be sure to peruse this month’s Shopping Guide on pages 68 to 74 for some ideas on how to spread Christmas cheer in person.

Of course, gift cards to local shops and eateries are always a popular gift and give the recipient a chance to learn what their local merchants have to offer.

Get to know YOUR local retailer. You’ll be glad you did.