It drives me just a little crazy that once a year American Express has chosen to invest so much in a nationwide marketing platform that encourages local support of small neighborhood entrepreneurship, for exactly one day out of the calendar year with the Small Business Saturday campaign.

Not to say there aren’t any positive results derived from the effort, but it leaves another 364 days in the year for local small businesses – once considered the backbone of the American economy — to compete with Amazon and the many other discount merchant sites surfacing daily. Talk about your classic David versus Goliath nightmare of a fairy tale.

The sad part is that none of the billions and billions of online spending is being directed or reinvested locally.

Small business owners in Napa not only need and appreciate your hard earned dollars, they’re also reinvesting it in the local economy.

I hear plenty of dialog about the negative impacts of housing, traffic and future growth and development.

There’s also the blame being placed on landlords when shop owners are forced to move or shut down because they can no longer afford to pay the cost of raising rents.

Well, if you’re one of the many allowing Amazon and others to serve as your primary resource for stocking stuffers and gifts this holiday season, you can also share in the blame for merchants not being able to meet the rising “cost standards of doing business” in today’s economy.

Patricia Trimble, owner of Roost Napa is a great example of a small business owner with a popular local boutique that no one seems to have enough time to visit, at least not enough to help her maintain a successful business model.

It literally took every personal effort imaginable for her to keep her doors open following the earthquake. Only to be told by yours truly that if she wanted to make a blip on the competitive “retail radar screen” she’d have to take on the enormous task – and huge investment of time and money — to create an e-commerce website for the store.

That’s a lot to ask for a small shop owner in day-to-day survival mode, a position shared by many small business owners today.

If we really want to support small business and local economy there’s really only one way to do that and I can’t think of a better time to start than this holiday season.

If nothing else look at it as a great way to assist our local police enforcement with the rising number of home package thefts that typically place during this time of the year.

I was reminded that Amazon is also trying to stay one step ahead by basically purchasing Whole Foods just to provide you with an alternative for package delivery.

Voting is now open:

Please go to napachamber.com to vote on your choice for Large and Small Business of the Year, Member of the Year and Customer Person of the Year. There are 21 finalists selected from approximately 150 very deserving nominations – doubling last year’s total of nominees.

Annual Meeting and Awards luncheon will be held on Friday, Jan. 26 at the Napa Valley Marriott. Chamber Chairman’s Circle member, Pacific Gas and Electric will serve as presenting sponsor of this year’s event.

Travis Stanley is the president and CEO of the Napa Chamber of Commerce. Call 226-7455 or visit napachamber.com.

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