By Eric Groves, Co-Founder and CEO, Alignable

Many of us shop locally because of the unique experiences and the opportunity to make a personal connection with the local business owner.  Last night, my wife Tracy shared one of her local experiences from her day that really got me thinking.   At the suggestion of a friend she went to The Natural Market in Groton, MA to try one of their homemade soups.  When she paid using cash the storeowner Joan Reardon gave her back a little extra change and thanked her for using cash rather than a charge or debit card.   A simple act of mutual kindness that may seem like small change at first, but it got me wondering what might happen if it became a movement…

Take one locally oriented day for example. “Shop Small” Saturday is billed as campaign in support of local business owners across the land.  Last year, American Express and NFIB reported the total amount spent at independent businesses on that one day was a record high $5.7 Billion dollars.  That’s clearly a lot of coin.

So here’s where small change could become a movement.  If on that one-day alone, we all as consumers made the bold move to paid with cash rather than credit cards over $150,000,000 would stay in the hands of the local businesses, the communities they serve, and the places we all live.  (Note: storeowners pay between 2 percent and 5 percent based on the credit card you use).

So this year as your mind turns from Turkey dinner to shopping, and you make the smart decision to do that shopping locally, make your first stop at your local bank to get some cash out of the ATM.  Then go spend it at your favorite locally owned businesses.

And for the locally owned businesses out there, when someone pays with cash do like Joan – use it as an opportunity to make a lasting connection with your customers by simply saying, “Thanks for paying with cash – it means a lot to us.”

Eric Groves is the co-founder and CEO of Alignable, the free social network for local businesses and organizations to connect and collaborate with others nearby. Eric has been a local marketing expert and enthusiast since 2001, authored The Constant Contact Guide to Email Marketing, and believes that local businesses are always stronger together.