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Small Business Saturday -- The Most Important Shopping Day of the Year

Editor's note: Saturday, November 26 is "Small Business Saturday."

You hear a lot about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but Small Business Saturday may just be the most important shopping day of the year. Why? Because it matters more to our economy, and to our communities.

Small Business Saturday is about Main Street, not Wall Street. It’s about entrepreneurs and families selling things that the chains and e-commerce companies aren’t. Only small businesses can offer truly unique gifts and the most genuinely friendly customer service.

Small Business Saturday is also about supporting the local economy. The chain stores are owned by bigger companies that are probably based somewhere other than your hometown, but small businesses are usually owned by your neighbors. When you shop at a small business, you’re supporting your local economy and your local job base.

The day originated as a marketing campaign launched last year by American Express as a way to promote local establishments. But as president and chief executive of the National Federation of Independent Business, America’s leading small-business association, I know Small Business Saturday isn't just a gimmick.

Small business drives our economy.

We can’t have a strong economy unless our small businesses are doing well, and right now they are not. They are hurting.

The recession may be over, but according to NFIB's latest Small-Business Optimism Index, the outlook among small-business owners is still grim. Owners say their No. 1 concern is still "poor sales," followed by crushing government regulations and taxes.

Holiday shopping stories on the news tend to focus on the Fortune 500 brands everyone knows. However, they are missing a huge part of the economic story: the small businesses that represent 99 percent of U.S. employers and employ about half of the nation's private-sector workforce.

Dan Danner is president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).