Post Independent opinion: Shop locally with your holiday dollars
Now that we’ve experienced Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday – whew! – we can enjoy a few more relaxed weeks of holiday shopping.
Of course, the holiday season is about a lot more than shopping. It’s a time for festive occasions with family, friends and colleagues, inspiring choral and orchestral concerts, fruitcake and cookies, religious services, and the wearing of Santa hats by all sorts of jolly folk.
But for merchants and others in business, the holidays represent a chance to make money and reach out to customers, new and old.
In this season, much is said about the value and virtue of shopping locally. We’d like to note that it’s not a black and white concept, or decision.
We see shopping locally as a range of choices with various benefits to local governments, merchants, manufacturers and service providers.
At one end of the local shopping range is local big-box stores. Some say this doesn’t count as shopping locally, but it’s important to note that purchases made at in-town big box stores generate sales tax for our state and local governments – and that’s a good thing.
And it’s definitely better than purchases made online and from catalogs. These are tempting options because they are simple and fast, but they offer no benefits to local businesses or governments, and often involve products manufactured overseas.
But back to our own ZIP code. Are we truly shopping locally if we patronize a local merchant and buy an item made in China? The answer is yes and no. The local merchant (hopefully) collects a profit off the sale, and we know that these profits drive local employment and support local families. But the wholesale cost of the item leaves our community. It’s a mixed bag, but one that balances in favor of local merchants.
The most local way to shop is to purchase a locally manufactured or grown product from a locally owned business. Such options include art galleries featuring local artists, stores stocking local food products, and liquor stores selling Colorado wines and beers.
Another option is to purchase a gift certificate from a local restaurant, or from a service provider for gifts such as a haircut, a car tune-up, home repair, window-washing or show tickets. This is a truly creative gift that shows how well the gift-giver knows the recipient.
Shopping locally requires planning ahead, taking extra time, and deciding where on the shop-local spectrum you are comfortable spending holiday dollars. The payoff comes in getting more personal attention as a shopper, and in knowing that you have supported local businesses and tax-funded local government services.
With Hanukkah and Christmas still weeks away, there’s plenty of time to spread your holiday cheer and shop local. We encourage everyone to do so.
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