They say Black Friday is the start of the holiday shopping season, but I don't really get into the spirit of the season until the next day, Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is the Saturday after Thanksgiving and, I think, the antidote to Black Friday.

Black Friday is when people come up with a plan, get up before dawn, fight the traffic, and stand in line at the chain stores to buy things no one wants or even use.

Small Business Saturday, on the other hand, is when we support the local stores and restaurants that support our communities throughout the year. 

Black Friday is dominated by the national chains, but Small Business Saturday is all about independent businesses that are owned by and employ our friends and neighbors, and it's small businesses, after all, that drive Oklahoma's economy.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for 99.4 percent of all employers in the state and employ 52 percent of the state's private sector workforce. 

NFIB, the nation's leading small business advocacy organization, points out that these independent businesses keep our communities strong by creating jobs and contributing to everything from sports teams to local charities. 

Small Business Saturday, then, is our chance to say thank you.

Small Business Saturday can also offer a better experience. Local stores and restaurants usually sell things you can't find at the national chains, and there's a good chance you'll be dealing directly with the owner, who has a vested interest in getting you to come back again.

Small Business Saturday began in 2010 as a marketing campaign launched by American Express to promote small businesses, but as state director of NFIB in Oklahoma, I can tell you that Small Business Saturday isn’t just a gimmick.

NFIB believes that Small Business Saturday is a good reminder to #ShopSmall and support the local businesses that keep our communities strong. It’s also a great way to save money on unique gifts and gift cards to unique businesses your friends and family won’t find at the mall or online.

According to a survey by NFIB and American Express, 108 million shoppers spent $12.9 billion at independently owned businesses on last year’s Small Business Saturday. The survey said 43 percent of U.S. adults shopped or ate small on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Most of those people said they shopped or ate at more than one independent business.

You wouldn’t think something as modest as Small Business Saturday would have such a major impact, but it does.

When you shop local and shop small, you’re supporting your friends and neighbors. You’re supporting your community. When you shop at a chain store, most of the money goes to some corporate office somewhere, but when you shop on Main Street, most of that money stays on Main Street.

This year make a difference in your community: Shop local on Small Business Saturday.