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This holiday season, go plaid and go small.

Walk away from the hectic, computer-generated Black Friday enticements from the mega-national chain stores, trying to lure Southern Vermont shoppers off our local Main streets and into cyber shopping sites far from downtown.

Instead, head to Brattleboro for Plaid Friday, designed to “encourage holiday shoppers to slow down and shop locally at small, independent businesses, rather than endure the frenzy of big box retailers,” according to the website.

Wear some plaid — a shirt, pants, maybe your bathrobe (maybe not) — and head downtown from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. to show your love and support for your locally owned stores, restaurants, museums, art galleries, and everything else that’s local and great about Brattleboro.

Remember, these places are owned by our neighbors, staffed by our neighbors, often selling food and items made by our neighbors. Best of all, we can visit with our neighbors in person as we slow down and leisurely enjoy local shopping and dining.

Our dollars stay close to home and our downtowns and local communities are healthier and happier places to visit and live.

Black Plaid Friday was launched in Oakland, Calif., in 2009, but has been growing in New England since 2010. The meaning of Black Plaid is derived from the view that plaids are woven and strong fabrics, just as local businesses weave stronger communities.

We agree.

Downtown Bennington is celebrating Small Business Saturday this weekend. Same principle: support smaller, locally owned businesses this holiday season.

The first customer at every downtown shop will receive a free “Shop Small” tote bag courtesy of the Better Bennington Corporation. Hidden inside one of the bags will be $25 Downtown Dollars and $10 Downtown Dollars in another.

Yay! But truthfully, we don’t need incentives.

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It’s been a tough few years for local businesses, with the COVID pandemic keeping people home, inflation on the rise, supply chain disruptions, a worker shortage and more making it difficult to keep a small business profitable. We get that, and we’re ready to do our part to make sure our downtown stores, restaurants and other businesses stay around.

Bennington’s downtown — and we include the shops and restaurants outside the core town center, from one end of town to the other — is rebounding. Our community feels stronger than ever. But we have learned how fragile a healthy economy can be.

We’ll do our part on Small Business Saturday.

The quality of local products, the warmth of seeing friends and family out shopping and dining, and the knowledge that we’re supporting our neighbors cannot be found on a big-box website.

And Manchester’s downtown holiday magic can’t be beat. Locally owned businesses, and national stores that hire local staff and support local causes, twinkle and entice.

The holiday tree lighting takes place Saturday from 4:45 to 5:15 p.m. at Factory Point Green; and Snowlight in Vermont — seeking sponsorships for lighted trees in Manchester and Stratton Village to support local Vermont children through early literacy programs, experiential learning opportunities, college/trade scholarships, and more — gets underway on Saturday.

In addition to local dining and shopping, Manchester’s holiday offers music, art and drama. (Visit manchestervermont.com/manchester-merriment for more information.)

For Southern Vermonters, it’s all about being in the moment, not staring at a computer screen. We support our local businesses, and finding the highest quality gifts — many locally crafted or produced — for friends and families.

Mostly, for us, it’s about stepping back from the craziness of scrambling for the cheapest item on an online site far, far away.

That’s not for us.

We’re digging out our plaid and getting small. See you downtown!