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Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:03

Thinking Outside the (Big) Box

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One of the many reasons I am so grateful every holiday season is that I live amongst a special "hometown" entrepreneurial spirit that is a hallmark of life here in Saratoga Springs.
This is a city built on local, independent businesses. I work for one - I get to profile others: artists, craftspeople, musicians and retailers. I live in a city whose citizenry has long supported these independent enterprises, and appreciated the fact that the true quality of the products and services they offer are not determined by their slick, corporate image or the size of their marketing campaigns.


No, Saratoga learned to "shop small" before shopping small was trendy or cool - certainly before it was a nationwide promotion (sponsored by of all things, American Express!) centered on a concept called "small business Saturday."  I feel fortunate to say that I live in an area where nearly every Saturday is a small business Saturday.


So the last thing you need to hear from me is advocacy about doing something that you have been doing for so long; indeed, "buying local" is something that you have taught me to appreciate. Instead, if you will indulge me, permit me to say thank you for showing me a better way of life. 


I wish I could list every one of the people and local businesses who have touched me in this column; in most cases, we're on a first-name basis, which is a virtue in itself. I'm not afraid of leaving anyone out, but the space here might prevent me from making the list complete. Instead, let me say to the entrepreneurial community en masse` that I resolve to thank every one of you by continuing to do what I have learned to appreciate. I'll buy local because:
• I recognize how important it is to keep the dollars here.
• I realize how especially important it is this year with "the
economy."
• But I realize how important it is every year.
• And I pledge to continue to "vote with my wallet" to demonstrate how much your efforts contribute to my quality of life.


But one person I can find room to thank is you, my fellow local consumer.
You, combined with your neighbors, have helped to make a difference for years. To you, shopping small has been a way of life - this isn't the first year someone's given you the idea that buying gifts or certificates from local businesses is a good thing. That everyone has a favorite local hair stylist, mechanic or pizza place. In fact, you knew long ago that finding out a person's favorite "little spot," and surprising them with a gift from that place, enhanced the pleasure of gift-giving all around.


Your efforts have not only helped to build a unique, vibrant indie business climate, but you taught this urban transplant a valuable life lesson: how to think outside the (big) box.


It's not even necessary for me to urge you to "keep it up." I'm proud to live in a community where I know you will.


Happy holidays, everyone!

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