This Thanksgiving, ditch Black Friday and opt for Small Business Saturday, a national movement to support small businesses by holiday shoppers. In 2020, many small businesses have had devastating losses from the economic impact from the pandemic, and Small Business Saturday is a great way to support them.

Small Business Saturday is part of a national "Shop Small" movement sponsored in part by American Express to highlight unique, locally owned businesses. This is the 11th year for the program nationally. Wasilla and Palmer merchants have participated in the past, and every year it gets more popular. Not only will you find great deals at many of the shops, you'll also find owners who welcome shoppers with free cookies, coffee, cider and other treats.

Many small businesses, including restaurants, are struggling right now as they cope with the pandemic. Consider buying a gift certificate now for use later - the cash will help many small businesses survive. One unique way to do that in downtown Palmer is by purchasing Bingles from the Greater Palmer Chamber of Commerce. Bingles are replicas of the currency from the Matanuska Colony and are good at nearly 30 downtown Palmer merchants.

After participating in Small Business Saturday, don't forget to come back to Palmer on Dec. 11-13 for Colony Christmas - all outdoor events are still scheduled, however, indoor events including the annual craft fairs have been cancelled.

Black Friday is also a chance to follow with the national movement created by REI, #OptOutside. Instead of battling shoppers for the greatest deal, spend time with your family outdoors.