In the week following Thanksgiving Americans spend approximately $85 billion at independent retailers and restaurants, including an estimated annual average of $12 billion on Small Business Saturday alone. This year saw record Small Business Saturday sales at $17.8 billion, perhaps because Americans have more spending money due to wage increases and tax cuts. Fully 90 percent of Americans also think supporting small businesses has positively impacted their communities.

It’s not hard to see why. Small businesses create about two out of three new jobs, and around half of all employees work at or own small businesses. In all there are over 30 million small businesses in the United States. But did you know a significant number of them are owned by veterans? As the Small Business Administration reports:

Nearly one in 10 small businesses is veteran-owned, and our nation’s 2.4 million veteran-owned small businesses employ almost 6 million people and generate more than $1 trillion in receipts.  In the private sector, veterans are 45 percent more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed.                        

So as the holiday shopping season kicks off, consider visiting local and online veteran-owned businesses.

Some great gift idea lists include this one from It features lots of great items like hand-crafted 50 caliber ammunition bottle openers, clothing for lovers of “Freedom, Bacon and Whiskey,” specialty bourbons, cigars, coffee, apparel, and other “cool stuff” made “in dangerous places.”

The Federalist has another great list compiled last year by Lisa De Pasquale. How about custom-woven hats knit by wounded vets and their caregivers? Or cutting boards, growth charts, and other specialty items hand-carved by a champion lumberjack and wounded vet? There are also beautifully crafted handbags, men’s grooming products designed by a soldier, and a list of books by vets.

With so many veteran-owned businesses, the gift-giving possibilities are virtually endless.