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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many events to be cancelled this year, but it does not take away the opportunity to shop local during the holiday season. Communities across the country have found innovative ways to keep both business owners and customers safe.

For example, the Valley County Chamber in Ord, Nebraska, made their annual Snowball Drop a virtual event. Starting in early November, the Chamber posted questions about local businesses on their social media. Every community member who responds to a post is entered to win prizes from local businesses on Nov. 28, which is Small Business Saturday.

In 2019, Americans spent nearly $20 billion at local businesses on Small Business Saturday, according to the Small Business Saturday insights survey. Events like these are crucial for our local businesses, especially in the midst of recent surges in COVID-19 cases. The impacts of the pandemic have been detrimental for many of our main street businesses which make initiatives like Small Business Saturday even more timely.

Almost two-thirds of small businesses have a website, according to the Small Business Administration. As you search for the perfect gifts, intentionally seek options local businesses have for online shopping. If that is not available, you can directly call the business owner. Chances are you or someone you know already have their number.

While shopping may look different than in years past, there are still a multitude of ways we can shop safely and locally this holiday season.

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.