With the holidays now here, it's hard to tell who is more excited -- the kids anticipating Santa's visit or the retailers enticing me to fill my stockings at their stores.
Ads on radio and TV pitch the biggest bang for our shopping bucks.
And each bang seems louder than the next.
Trust me, it's not jingle bells that are ringing in my ears.
My email's inbox bursts with subject lines that seem to shout -- written in all-caps and punctuated with multiple explanation points. Doorbuster deals! Extra 40 percent off already-low prices! Free gift with purchase!
Whew! I'm exhausted already.
Tucked between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a shopping day with significantly less shouting but a far greater impact on our local communities.
Small Business Saturday draws attention to the retailers that don't have the advertising budgets for slick ads and email blasts, the retailers you don't see in every mall in America. The retailers that make our local communities special.
Sure, some might say it's a gimmick that promotes small businesses for just one day of the month-long shopping season. Trust me, these stores won't mind if you shop there on a Tuesday -- or every day, for that matter. Your holiday spending will be just as welcome even if you can't make it on the official Small Business Saturday, which this year falls on Nov. 30.
But the focus on this one day gets us talking about small businesses -- the ones that may be forgotten in the frenzy of the season.
You'll likely find the deals are just as good. Many offer discounts, free gift wrapping and other specials to entice us down to Main Street and away from the chain stores at the malls.
But even more importantly, these are the businesses that create jobs. Small businesses create 65 percent of all new private-sector jobs. And according to the National Federation of Independent Business, 73 percent of small businesses plan to hire employees from their communities to help meet staffing demands for the holiday season.
Small businesses are the engines of our economy. Money spent at locally owned small businesses tends to stay in our communities. They are the mom-and-pop, brick-and-mortar stores that are owned locally, staffed locally and patronized by local shoppers. Year-round, they are the ones that sponsor the local Little League teams and donate to the school fundraisers. Now is our chance to say thanks with our gift-giving dollars.
Small business owners have a hard enough time as it is, competing with big box stores and online retailers that can carry an endless inventory.
But an online retailer probably can't tune your son's new guitar. Or teach your grandmother how to use that new gadget. The clerk at the big box store probably doesn't know the artist behind that special vase for Aunt Jane.
A small business owner likely will.
As an entrepreneur myself, I know how hard it is to run a business. The pressure is on to end the year in the black instead of the red. The hours are long even before the doors open for the day. The stress makes you wonder if it's worth it.
But when you see your customers giddy when they find that perfect gift, or they come back with stories about the joy that gift brought to someone else, you remember why you're in business in the first place.
And that's worth a lot more than any doorbuster discount.
Linda McMahon is the co-founder and former CEO of WWE and was Connecticut's Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 2012. She is a resident of Greenwich.