The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…for Small Businesses

So. We’ve been out of the loop for a bit and we’re sorry. If you’ve ever had strep throat, you understand why I didn’t feel much like putting fingers to a keyboard. I had to do so for work, as papers still need grading, even when the teacher feels like someone raked their fingernails down the inside of her throat…. Well, that was a rather gross description. Accurate. But gross.

This past week, Jeff was hit with strep, too. And bronchitis. And the flu. All at the same time. Yep. Unbelievable. We had a 2 a.m. trip to the emergency room, a chest x-ray, and a dose of an amazing non-steroid anti-inflammatory medication. It reduced the nearly critical level of swelling in Jeff’s throat in just minutes.

Not feeling like risking a second prolonged illness, I got my flu shot on Friday. I know, I know. I should have made time earlier, but doctors tend to frown on giving you a flu shot when you are already sick with something else. Who knew? So, I put it off. Sore arm, a few aches, no biggie.

Get your flu shot. Don’t risk the rest of us because you figure you can hack it.

Anyway, on a positive note, at least we managed to check ‘winter illnesses’ off our list before the holiday rush.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, actually, and it’s coming up quickly. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite recipes this week – cranberry sauce, stuffing, Kahlua pecan pie – but my real focus is on just being thankful.

That is harder than it looks sometimes. There are some really…jerky…people out there. They are angry and bitter and complaining. They pretend to support others while talking behind their backs. They wind ‘friends’ up about petty nonsense and laugh at them for being anxious and overwhelmed as a result. These are the people who start the day with a negative and end the same way.

And I admit it. Their negativity affects me, too. At work, I want to seal myself in my classroom and just work with my kids. In the checkout line, I can’t resist piping up to the nasty person ahead of me, “How wonderful is it to live in a country where you have the luxury choosing between a credit card or cash? Or complaining that the fruit you have to choose from is ‘just not perfect enough’?” I’m also that person who says to the harried cashier, “Don’t worry, honey. This is a first-world problem and there are bigger issues than whether you need to restock the bags. It’s all good.”

The holidays bring out my snark. Can’t you see the irony of buying food for your Thanksgiving table at the same time you are complaining about long lines and slow cashiers and traffic? Stop it! Actually be thankful for crying out loud!

Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.

Zig Ziglar

Sorry. That was a rant. Moving on.

This week, while the most of the focus is on being thankful, the rest of the focus is on Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

I have to admit that I am not a shopper. I’ll go shopping this week. But not at 3 a.m. on Friday morning. I will be sleeping. Then get up and have a cup of coffee and some leftover muffins and quiche from the day before. (Yes, Mom, I am making Jeff’s favorite!).

When I do shop, I tend to hit local businesses. November 30, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, is Small Business Saturday. America thrives on its small businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that local entrepreneurs employ 58.9 million people. According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, consumers spent $17.8 billion on Small Business Saturday 2018, with “59 percent of small business owners reporting that Small Business Saturday contributes significantly to their holiday sales each year.”

I love the feel of a small business. We eat at local restaurants – 111 Bistro, Tres Potrillos, Blue Door Cafe, Eye Opener, Tremont Tap House, Grumpy’s Cafe.

The brother of my friend, Maribeth, owns a cool crepe restaurant called Brewella’s in Lakewood, Ohio. Admittedly, Jeff felt a little out of place surrounded by the teacups and collectibles, but could not deny the awesomeness of the coffee and the food! Check out their Instagram @brewellas.

These places are some of our favorites. Owners are right there, working alongside their employees. They use locally sourced ingredients. Offer creative takes on traditional favorites. How can you beat that?

One Lucky Dog is also a favorite – for our Berners. Owner Stacey Sutphen runs a pet-based business that focuses on high-quality food, toys and accessories for dogs and cats. She and her staff – including her dad! – bake our dogs’ favorite grain-free treats right on site. And she is super knowledgeable about homeopathic remedies for whatever ails your pet baby. Check out the blog by her Scottish deer hound, Finn!

If you prefer doing your shopping online, make sure to check out Etsy. This e-commerce web site represents small businesses selling handmade or vintage items. You can find everything from furniture to toys, craft supplies to jewelry.

One of our favorites is Rusty Mill. Owner Heather specializes in barn wood picture frames and other rustic home decor. She does custom work as well, so don’t hesitate to reach out!

The wooden ornaments featured in our post “From Dusty to Dashing” came from She Likes Letters. Whether you are looking for hand-crafted cupcake toppers for a wedding or baby shower, or that special ornament for your Christmas tree, Bethany can probably design exactly what you need.

There are thousands of small businesses scattered across this country. Men and women who are embracing the American Dream. Yes, chain stores and restaurants employ millions of people. And they might be easier to patronize in some ways. But our local, small businesses are the backbone of all that we are, and all that we hope to be. So when you have to make a choice this week, make the choice to invest in your communities.

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