This week hasn’t felt much like fall in the Chippewa Valley. This weekend won’t, either. With highs expected to reach into the upper 70s on Saturday, it will be close to 20 degrees above normal.

We all know that weather has an effect on business. It’s easiest to see at the extremes. A major snowstorm often takes a bite out of businesses’ profits for the day. So can waves of extreme heat and cold, when people simply find it too disagreeable to be outside for long.

But retail businesses have long understood that mild weather, like what we’re seeing now, can have an effect. Shoppers take their cues from the weather when it comes to seasonal interest. A warm start to the holiday shopping season can and does delay the start for some. And when it doesn’t feel like fall, autumnal activities can take a hit.

This is the time when orchards, pumpkin farms and other businesses that depend on seasonal traffic make up for their investments during the rest of the year. For them, this is the make-or-break season. So we’d ask you to remember that and think about taking a drive out to one of the local options over the next couple weekends.

You’ve heard this basic spiel from us before, and you’ll hear it again during the holiday season. There’s a simple reason for it: local businesses matter, and we’ll support them by reminding the public of their value.

It’s easy to overlook the importance of small businesses in the United States, but it’s a mistake to do so. The federal government’s 2020 Small Business Profile tallied 60.6 million small business employees nationally. That’s almost half of all U.S. workers.

Small businesses accounted for 1.6 million new jobs last year. And, importantly, that’s the net gain. That’s after any business closures or cutbacks. Even in a year as devastating as 2020, small businesses still managed to add a sizable number of jobs to the national economy.

The resilience isn’t a total shock. Only once in recent history — during the banking crisis of 2008 and its fallout — has the nation seen a net loss of new businesses. It literally takes a worldwide calamity to knock back the American small business owner.

It’s not just a question of operations that do business on a purely local level, either. More than 285,000 small businesses in our country are also exporters, helping to improve our trade balance. About a third of U.S. exports come from what the government defines as small businesses.

Small businesses exist in areas that people don’t usually associate with them, too. Health care has a huge number. Most doctors don’t franchise, after all. Wholesale trade, transportation and even education all have at least 1 million people who are classified as small business employees.

The figures we’re citing come from the U.S. Small Business Administration, by the way. And if the fact the federal government finds supporting small businesses important enough to create a division dedicated to helping them doesn’t convince you of their importance, it’s hard to imagine what will.

Locally-owned businesses are critical in dozens of ways. They are part of how communities see themselves, and they play an outsized role in how communities develop. It’s important that people make an effort to support them, and that begins with simply remembering that they’re around if they’re in a category that is not part of your daily routine.

Business is changing. That’s indisputable. The way things are done now are very different from even a generation ago. Tell a teen today that you once had to make a carbon copy of a credit card in order to make a purchase, and there’s a good chance they’ll laugh. It’s not that they don’t believe it, it’s that the idea is simply foreign to how people act today.

Small businesses have changed, too. They’ve adapted. Some have gone on to new owners, while others packed it in when their owners decided that retirement beckoned. And in all of those changes they have left their marks.

That’s why we hope you’ll take some time this weekend to remember the local orchards and pumpkin patches.

Even if it doesn’t feel like fall.