Donna Bailey

The holiday season is for being with family and friends, celebrating community, eating good food, giving back when you have little extra to spare and, of course, shopping. While some big box retail giants could pay to charter their own private cargo ships to import goods into the United States, I’m hoping that we don’t forget about the small businesses and shops in our local communities that are still feeling the crunch from the pandemic. These local small businesses and shops are owned and managed by our neighbors and keep our local economy running. They employ more than half of the state’s workforce. In fact, Maine has nearly 150,000 small businesses, which means that we have many options to do our holiday shopping. Instead of us all going to just a handful of big retail stores, let’s visit the great variety of shops down the street from our homes and schools.

Recently, the Saturday after Thanksgiving has become known as Small Business Saturday. Launched in 2010 in the wake of a different American crisis – The Great Recession – Small Business Saturday has become a perennial tradition, much like the major holidays themselves. On this day, customers are encouraged, between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, to shop local. In Saco, for example, I was thrilled to see the return of Saco Bucks, which are gift certificates worth five dollars, to spend at participating local businesses and shops in our community. I want to thank Saco Main Street and The Scoop for organizing this event, which will benefit our whole community. I’m excited to use my bucks through Dec. 8!

While we are likely already familiar with some of the shops in our communities, some people might still not be fully aware of what all is out there, including in the town next door. Loud and Local Maine is a fun resource for finding local shops and restaurants to support. I personally will be spending hours on the home and garden page because I like to keep things growing all year long! There’s also a community calendar for keeping up to date with events happening in the coming weeks. If you’re fully vaccinated and boosted, then you should be able to gather safely in person. After you finish with Loud and Local Maine, be sure to check out Maine Made. What I like about this site is that you can easily explore sellers and vendors by region. The Maine Beaches is where you’ll find local businesses and shops to support in Buxton, Hollis, Limington, Old Orchard Beach and Saco. Across the district, you’ll find talented artists and jewelers, as well as farms selling their fine products. To find farms, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension has compiled a list of all the farms and seafood producers in Maine. Please visit extension.umaine.edu/agriculture/farm-product-and-pickup-directory/ to see what is available for you and your family this season.

I know that the pandemic seems especially hard with COVID-19 cases surging to new highs in Maine, but we can safely gather with our families, count our blessings and go shopping this year. In public, please continue to wear a mask, especially when you don’t know the vaccination statuses of the people around. Moreover, children aged 5 to 11 are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, so please make sure everyone in your family is fully protected. To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine, please visit maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites or call the Maine COVID-19 Community Vaccination Line at 1-888-445-4111.

I hope that you all have a happy and safe holiday season. If I you have comments, concerns, or questions, please contact me at [email protected] or (207) 287-1515. I am honored to represent you in Augusta.

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