The holiday shopping season is in full swing, which means the hunt for the biggest deals and the best gifts is on. Big box and online retailers have been enticing customers with special deals even before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But, if you haven’t started your holiday shopping, are looking for some last minute items or just prefer to steer clear of the crowds, don’t forget about your local small businesses.

Here are three reasons why you should shop local this holiday season.

1. It’s the gift that keeps on giving

Across the country, small businesses employ more people than large corporations do, so even if you’re not a small business owner, you’re likely to work for one. Think of it this way: Nearly two-in-five (that’s 39 percent!) of Americans hope to own their own business someday.

When you shop small, you’re supporting local employers that give back to local organizations through volunteering, in-kind contributions and cash donations. In fact, about 41 percent contribute in all three ways.

Thinking big and supporting small businesses in your community is a great way to pay it forward and get involved. Even if you’ve already checked everyone off your holiday shopping list and finished your prep, spreading the word about thinking big and shopping small helps your community thrive.

2. Personalized service

Personalized service not only makes customers feel valued, but also offers a superior level of attention that larger stores may not be able to provide. This is an important consideration for service-related businesses such as hair salons, pet groomers and car repair.

Small businesses like these are more likely to forge personal bonds with their customers and may feel more empowered to accommodate customers’ needs and desires.

Also, these businesses have a less intimidating environment for customers, shown not only through more personalized attention, but by offering a less corporate vibe in interactions and execution of services.

3. Product diversity and quality

At small businesses, you’d be surprised to know you’ll find great deals on items that cannot be found in the massive chain stores. And in addition to saving money, you’ll feel good about contributing to the local economy and families that are employed by small businesses.

Plus, it’s always nice to find unique and personal gifts for the holidays and eliminate the duplicates that your friends and family are bound to receive if everyone shops at the same few stores.

Unlike large chain stores that outsource their manufacturing and production of goods, shopping at small businesses means that you’re more likely purchasing goods that were produced in the U.S. There’s a good chance that the craftsmanship and quality of these goods will be superior to those in large chains. Even if they are a tad more expensive, it’s probably worth the investment in quality.

At Navy Federal, we’re proud to support servicemembers and their families as entrepreneurs and small business owners. We guide first-time entrepreneurs to help them achieve their financial dreams through small business ownership. Each small business has its own inspirational, and unique history. Stories like Navy Federal small business owner Rusty Romo’s could make even the Grinch’s heart grow two sizes.

“The day I stop loving what I do is the day I stop working here, but I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.” – Rusty Romo, Annapolis, Md.

So get out there and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year at small businesses!