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Column: Small Business Saturday: today and every day

If you are reading this on Saturday, Nov. 30, you have successfully survived Black Friday 2013. Congratulations!

The Friday directly following Thanksgiving Day and is considered to be the biggest shopping day of the year. Did you venture out to shop until you dropped when stores opened on Thanksgiving evening? Or were you like me and stayed as far away from the mall as possible?

In the 30-something years of my life, I have never shopped on Black Friday. Not because I am taking a stand against it, but mostly because of the thought of battling crowds, parking lots and cold temperatures in the middle of the night to save $10 on a TV is not a good trade-off for me. I like to sleep off my yearly dose of Thanksgiving turkey tryptophan in the comfort of my own home.

Don't get me wrong; I am not a Scrooge. I really enjoy giving my family and friends gifts for the holidays. But I prefer to shop on the Saturday following Black Friday, known as Small Business Saturday. That's today, folks!

Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 by American Express to encourage people to shop small, local, brick-and-mortar stores rather than big box or e-commerce businesses. The good news for us in the Twin Ports is that we have several really cool, small, local brick-and-mortar stores to buy unique and special gifts.

There are many locally owned one-stop shopping places in town that are perfect for today's Small Business Saturday Shopping. Fitger's Complex, Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace and our downtown shopping district house great independent retailers where you can find special, one-of-a-kind gifts. If you work up an appetite while shopping you're in luck; all

feature excellent locally owned restaurants.

A must-shop at 365 Canal Park Drive is our famed Duluth Pack. For more than 130 years, Duluth Pack has been manufacturing high-quality, built-to-last canvas and leather bags, packs and outdoor gear.

"We maintain the handcrafted, American-made heritage and a one-customer-at-a-time way of doing business that we have always valued," says Molly Solberg, director of sales and marketing of the company that employs 75 people locally. "Our craftsmen and women use the same artisanal techniques that we have used since our company began."

Just down the street at 307 Canal Park Drive is The Medium Control, a shopping experience where you'll find one-of-a-kind apparel, hand-painted art and home goods. Owned by Tommy and Kristy Kronquist of Duluth, the Canal Park location opened in May 2013.

After Tommy Kronquist graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth, he moved to St. Paul and worked as a graphic designer. He built an impressive portfolio but longed for another creative outlet, he says, and began to design apparel and accessories inspired by the snow/skate/surf culture that had caught his interest.

In 2011, the couple moved back to Duluth and opened The Medium Control on Park Point. They expanded to their current location in May. Sustainability is a big part of their business and they offer a line of eco-friendly apparel that is made with organic and recycled

content.

Today is Small Business Saturday and I would like to encourage the community to shop locally today and throughout this holiday season. By choosing to purchase gifts at locally owned and operated retailers, we are keeping our dollars in the community and supporting our friends and neighbors. Now that's the holiday spirit.

Cara Lindberg is the board president of Sustainable Twin Ports. She lives with her husband in the Duluth area. She can be reached at lindberg.cara@gmail.com.

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