WESTFIELD, NJ—This weekend officially kicks off the holiday shopping season, and local merchants are hoping you’ll shop close to home. This year, as Black Friday occurs not long after power outages caused by Superstorm Sandy shut down Downtown Westfield for nearly a week, that’s true more than ever.

“Although shopping local has always been important, it is now imperative,” said Heather Robinson, executive director of the Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce. “Avoid the temptation to consider only convenience. Shopping local is one of the very powerful ways an individual can make a difference towards disaster relief. By supporting the businesses in your community, you are helping your neighbors and, ultimately, your own family. We are all in this together!”

In addition to Black Friday bargains available right in Westfield on November 23, many independent shops and restaurants here will take part November 24 in Small Business Saturday, an event sponsored by American Express. Small businesses will offer special discounts that day, and American Express credit card holders who pre-register can get $25 back one time when they use their card to make a purchase of $25 or more at a qualifying small business location.