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Finding my way to the local store

I am not a Black Friday shopper, at least not in the traditional sense. I do not wait in line before dawn to buy things. I am not typically willing to sacrifice life and limb for a good deal on a TV.

But there was a time — one single time to be accurate — when I was. It was years ago while we were living in Houston, Texas. I convinced myself that I needed a GPS for the car. This was before iPhones, before in-dash navigation was ubiquitous. This was back when turn-by-turn GPS devices were still relatively new — and cost hundreds of dollars.

I found a Black Friday bargain on one at the low price of $299. But the sale was only from midnight to 3 a.m. So I drove through Houston traffic and took my place in line outside a Best Buy. There were a couple hundred folks in front of me, and they came prepared. Some had chairs, some had food and drinks, some had been waiting in line for hours.

They were mostly there for TVs, but some had my GPS unit in mind. When the doors opened, it was a mad rush. People pushed, cursed, ran and generally behaved like idiots. I grabbed what I needed quickly, but stayed around a few minutes just to watch the craziness.

I saw one woman with a cart full of GPS units fighting with another shopper over the last one. Apparently, she was buying them just to resell them on eBay. They yelled and fought like a couple of toddlers after the last Oreo.

It was entertaining if nothing else.

It was my last Black Friday shopping adventure. I will still shop in stores this weekend — online shopping bores me — but I wait until the crowds have thinned and the madness has died down. I usually wait until today — Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is a nationwide effort to support local stores. Across the country, more than 7,000 businesses and individuals signed up to promote the shop local effort. Since it started in 2010, customers have spent $85 billion at independent retailers and restaurants, according to the SBS website.

Shopping locally not only benefits you, it is essential to the success of this community. Small, local businesses not only keep their tax dollars here, they also shop at other local stores and employ local people. The value of the dollars spent locally far outpaces those spent with Amazon. By some estimates, $68  of every $100 spent locally stays in the community. At a national chain, that number is only $43. National chains have value and bring worth to the community, but not at the same level as an independent store.

Amazon and other online retailers are good at providing cheap prices and fast shipping. But Amazon can’t provide valuable advice from a knowledgeable salesperson, and Amazon has never spent a dime in Lincoln County.

So do yourself and your community a favor and shop locally this holiday season.

If you need helping finding any of the wonderful local stores Brookhaven has to offer, I have a 12-year-old GPS unit I can sell you.

Email publisher Luke Horton at luke.horton@dailyleader.com.