On Saturday, November 28, there was a special “promotion” encouraging everyone to “shop local.” Bad grammar aside—it should be “shop locally”—that’s a good concept not just for the holiday shopping season now in full swing, but for all times.
I’ve written about the reasons for supporting local business here in an early column from April 2014. So I won’t rehash those. What I will add is that supporting your local merchants is especially important at this time of year. Let’s face it: we all shop more in November, December and January than at other times of the year. We may spend more than we’d planned, or we may choose to consciously spend less. Either way, we need to make smart decisions about our gift-buying as we are all trying to, as the old saying goes, “do more with less.”
Knowing that this is the biggest time for sales, the merchants rely on our shopping dollars now more than ever, and they work hard to bring you in to their stores. But you don’t have to hit the “mega-mall” There are other alternatives.
From mid-November until Christmas, almost every school, church, and community organization sponsors some type of “market.” These are great ways to pick up hand-made crafts, home-made goodies, and other specialty items that you will not find in the stores.
While those may satisfy some of the folks on your “to buy for” list, you won’t find everything there—and so you have to go to the stores. Don’t be fooled by those sales in the mega-stores While you may find something cheaper than at a smaller, locally operated store, in the long run, you wind up spending more money, and spending way more time—a commodity that is in short supply these days it seems. So, you wind up saving neither. There may be some “chain” stores in small communities that carry the same merchandise as the stores in the larger communities, and the local staff can bring in what you need, when you need it.
You can make your shopping time more efficient, and your budget go further, by seeing what the local merchants have, asking them if they can get what you need, and then spending less time getting it all.
Here’s the biggest downside to not shopping locally: When you need your local store—they won’t be there anymore. They couldn’t stay in business, competing with the “mega-store”, and so the owners had to close up shop, putting themselves and their staff out of work—and now they can’t support other local businesses, nor can they continue to support your community.
So before you head to the mega-mall or even the mega-store, why not check out the smaller local stores first? Chances are, you’ll find what you’re looking for—and maybe even find some unique things you didn’t even know someone on your “shopping list” would love to have.
Then, in January, when all of those “mega-sales” are happening, you can quietly and calmly continue supporting your local merchants and let them know that you will be supporting them not just before and after Christmas—but all year round.
Do you shop locally? Join the conversation and tell us what is so great about your local merchants.