How Often Do You Support Small Businesses?

It's a sad fact that the recession is bringing many family-run businesses to an end. Though exact stats are hard to pin down, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that nearly 4.3 million businesses with 19 or fewer employees closed during 2007 and 2008. For many families, these small shops and restaurants are legacies — businesses that they've nurtured for decades, where generations have learned and passed along the family trade.

Since big names and chains dominated the city where I grew up, I always enjoyed the times I could find a unique, family-run place. There's something special about the people working there, who really know their stuff, and I always felt that there was something more authentic about my experiences in these stores.

Still, I recognize that there is a downside to shopping with smaller-run businesses. Often times, you can get a better deal shopping at a chain — there are likely more seasonal promotions, coupon savings, and discounts associated with big name retailers. And, of course, there's always the issue of convenience — finding a family-owned business off the beaten path can mean breaking your routine and sacrificing more of your time. But tell me, despite any drawbacks, do you make an effort to support your small local businesses?

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