Small Business Saturday passed last week. And while it’s a great day to shop local and support locally owned businesses in our communities, it’s time to expand on that one day.

This holiday season, we encourage you to shop local whenever possible for the entire month of December.

COVID-19 has impacted every business in our communities. Even in a normal year, many of these businesses look for that extra boost holiday shopping this time of year can provide. This year, they need that more than ever. Some businesses were closed due to the pandemic for a time, others have had to limit indoor customers. Almost all businesses have seen a decrease in foot traffic.

Many of us have seen the Facebook memes reminding us that it is the small businesses of our communities and not big box stores, that contribute to our organizations and causes in countless ways.

Do your part to shop local. Get creative and think outside the, pardon the pun, box stores this year. If your community doesn’t have an appliance store but you need a new refrigerator, find a small, neighboring community in your county that does have a locally owned appliance store. No shoe store in your town? Again, there’s probably one just a few miles away that offers the brands and styles you want.

Name whatever you are looking to buy this holiday season and odds are you can find it from a local merchant you know by name.

If you are a person who enjoys getting a bite to eat when you are out shopping, you may still be able to do that. But when you walk into your local eatery, if the tables are full due to limited crowd size because of pandemic mitigation rules, consider purchasing a gift card before you leave. It will be good the next time you stop. Or consider getting some food to carry out.

There are so many advantages to supporting local businesses. That appliance store you bought the new refrigerator from will not only deliver, but they will be there when you have a question about your appliance or a need for service. And when you call them, odds are they not only know you by name but know exactly where you live so they can come over to service your appliance.

And that shoe store? It’s a pretty good likelihood they will remember your size and style the next time you stop.

That eatery you like, you probably know the people working there. It may have been the place you got your first real job working in the kitchen or waiting tables when you were in high school. Maybe it was the place that hired your child for their first real job.

Money spent locally multiplies throughout the community and the county. The tax revenue supports city services and local schools.

Need more reason to shop local? The parking is plentiful and the lines are shorter. And in 2020, the money you spend may be more important to these businesses than ever before. Because when this pandemic is over, local youth programs and other volunteer organizations will need the support of those local businesses just like before.

Do your part this December to make sure the doors are open at those businesses when community groups stop in and ask those businesses to support them.

— The “Our Opinion” column is the consensus of the editorial board. For information or comments, contact a member of the board: Beth Lutgen, Mary Ungs-Sogaard or Mike Putz