It’s Black Friday, and whether you sweat off Thanksgiving dinner with a 5 a.m. shopping workout or treat this like any other Friday, make sure Auburn is at the top of your holiday shopping list. The recession has been an equal opportunity troublemaker the past two years, but that’s no reason not to give Auburn-area merchants your business today — and in the coming weeks. When you do, the money you spend becomes the fuel and grease this local economic engine needs to keep moving. Local spending generates local jobs. Local jobs generate more local spending, compounding that dollar’s impact. A portion of the sales taxes stay local as well, helping keep Auburn streets smooth and safe. At the same time, you’ll be saving some green at the pump, as gas prices are up about 80 cents a gallon over last year. That all sounds good, you say, but what about selection and price? What about those door-busting deals and the adrenalin rush of getting the last gadget off the shelf? What about the ease of shopping in your pajamas, clicking away at sales on the Internet? There are compelling reasons to shop elsewhere, but the real reason to shop local is that Auburn has dozens of unique, one-of-a-kind businesses, offering gift items you’re just not going to find anywhere else. And when you look closely, you’ll find prices that are comparable or better than stores down the hill. We couldn’t begin to cover every unique store in this space, but here’s a sample: Need something colorful or classy this season? Auburn is stocked with quality items at stores such as the Footpath, Sunriver Clothing Company, Marilyn’s Fashion-a-tions and Al’s Place for menswear. Burl Ives’ “Silver and Gold” ringing in your ears? Strum it back on a Strat at Encore Music. Or visit the friendly folks at Roper’s Jewelers, The Silver Store, Golden Swann, OZ! Gallery and Southwest Silver. You’re sure to find something shiny, sparkly or glittery — and very distinctive. Not sure what you’re looking for, but you’ll know it when you find it? Drop in at Wildflower, Tea Thyme Treasures or Red Poppy and take in the holiday spirit. Walk through the door and back through time at Auburn Drug Co., and finish it off with an old-fashioned ice cream sundae. Speaking of sweets … need a quick dessert for that last-minute holiday party? Pick up a delectable cheesecake from the Old Town Dessert Café, or a pie from Machado’s or Marie Callendar’s. This year, rather than getting frustrated with traffic and flying elbows at the mall, park your car in Old Town, Downtown, Elm Center, Rock Creek Plaza or any of the other small retail centers, and stroll from store to store. See what Auburn has to offer, and if you see the right gift at the right price, buy it. To get started, make it a personal challenge this season to visit five Auburn stores you have never stepped in before. Spend at least five minutes in each store, take stock of the items and consider how they compare to others. You might come away with a gift, or you might log what you’ve seen to memory. You’ll undoubtedly come away with an appreciation for the richness and diversity of our local retail community And that, truly, will be the gift that keeps on giving.