Thursday, November 30, 2006

Shopping locally

I read the following three years ago, and found it very meaningful. I wrote to the author and asked if I might post it in my blog, and she said yes. The article was written by Gail Montany, and was published in The Caledonian Record in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. I think these are words to live by, not only at Christmastime, but throughout the year.

Stay Local This Christmas

- Next Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, marks the traditional kick-off of the holiday shopping season. Anyone who treasures his or her sanity, of course, will simply stay away from the down-country suburban malls and mega-shopping centers that weekend. (Actually, everyone who treasures their sanity finished their shopping before Thanksgiving.)

If you do choose to stay away and keep your wits intact that weekend, why not instead head to your local general store or arts/crafts shop or clothing boutique to do some shopping? In fact, why not eschew non-local Christmas shopping altogether?

Look at it this way. When you purchase a gift from a locally owned independent business (also known as a LOIB), those dollars stay right in your own community. Each dollar spent on a LOIB multiplies itself at least five times in the community as those dollars in turn are spent on employee wages, supplies purchased from other local businesses, contributions to nonprofit organizations, the town's tax coffers for school funding, etc.; in other words, those dollars are building a strong local economy.

On the other hand, if you choose to spend your money at a down-country mall, big box store, chain-clothing clone or online behemoth, you're pouring your money into the economy of another community at best, and enriching some already grossly overpaid CEOs at worst.

Your hometown LOIBs offer an array of great gift ideas in all price ranges that your recipient will be just as thrilled to receive as they would if the gift had been bought at a box chain (probably more).

Use your imagination! Gift certificates to a local restaurant or movie theater are perfect for impossible-to-buy-for friends. How about a stay at a local B&B, or a certificate for a massage or pedicure for someone who needs some personal pampering? Just about every town has a general store chock-full of cool and unusual stuff; bookstores are an excellent source of inspiration, as are art cooperatives and specialty boutiques.

If you habitually shop out of town, make it a goal this year to buy, say, three gifts at a locally owned independent business in your or a nearby town. It'll be good for your community - and for you.

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