W

e’re pleased to see the revival of Girls Night Out in Sylva, set for Friday.

Sponsored by the Main Street Sylva Association, the event returns after a one-year hiatus. Around three dozen businesses will keep their doors open from 4:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., offering specials and treats. MSSA President John Wermuth told the Herald that the fact that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month played a role in the decision to revive the event.

“It’s sort of a test, we’re going to try it again and see what happens,” Wermuth said. “If it goes well, it will be a regular event for every October. We’re making it all about women. Leave your husbands at home, even though husbands are welcome.”

We hope it does go well, as such events can be a big boost to local businesses, and Main Street Sylva is nothing if not local.

In many areas, downtowns have become ghost towns, with small businesses driven under by national chains. In other spots instead of ghost towns there stand clone towns – row upon row of cookie cutter retail chains and fast-food joints. Take a snapshot of one and you could claim it was any one of hundreds of towns across the country; aside from a palm tree, mountain backdrop or tumbleweed, you could be anywhere.

Sylva’s blessed in that it has avoided those aforementioned fates. Downtown has businesses with individuality and character.

A way to keep that going is to back events such as Girls Night Out and keep your dollars here.

A 2017 Forbes article relayed statistics from the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies that showed independent businesses create nearly two-thirds of private sector jobs. For every $10 million spent at local businesses, 57 jobs are created. The same dollars spent at a mega-retailer created about 14 jobs.

A solid small business base also increases home values, according to the BALLE, 50 percent on average. That makes sense, as a home near a thriving small business is going to be more attractive than a home near, say, a shuttered business being overrun by kudzu.

It’s instructive to think of local dollars as blood flowing through a person’s circulatory system. If it’s spread around locally it’s going to the benefit of locals, much as healthy blood flow keeps your hands and feet going. If those dollars are headed to far-off destinations instead of local neighbors, well, that’s how local economies can bleed out, creating all sorts of problems.

Friday there’s a chance to get the blood flowing here in Sylva.