Next weekend, while many people will be headed off for the malls and big-box retailers, fighting the crowds as shop for holiday gifts, others will be taking a more stress-free approach: shopping at their local hometown stores.
This next weekend brings us Small Business Saturday or Buy Local Day in several communities: Ticonderoga, Warrensburg, Plattsburgh, and Bolton Landing.
Shoppers visiting the local independently-owned businesses are more likely to find unique gifts, unlike the mass-produced items in the big-box stores. In addition, they probably will be greeted with a warm smile by someone they know, who cares about their family, and participates in local community life.
In Ticonderoga, two dozen businesses will be offering deep discounts. In Bolton Landing, shoppers will enjoy open houses with refreshments and pleasant socializing. In Warrensburg, businesses will be handing out raffle tickets for valuable prizes. In Plattsburgh, local enterprises will be offering a variety of these incentives.
We applaud the local chambers of commerce in these four communities for adopting the Buy Local initiative for Saturday Nov. 30. The promotion offers a welcome alternative to the madness of Black Friday — which is oriented to big-box stores, and Cyber Monday, which supports faceless e-commerce corporations.
But such awareness of our local entrepreneurs shouldn’t be limited to one day — we should be practicing it all year long.
While Denton Publications and other community newspaper publishers have been promoting the concept for decades, the idea of shopping locally has recently been gaining traction due to the growth of the sustainable living movement.
Buying locally offers a lot of practical advantages: saving plenty on the costs involved in driving to the suburban big-box stores and malls, as well as avoiding the mayhem and jammed parking lots. Small businesses also offer more comprehensive, personalized service — because the proprietors understand your needs — which can mean greater satisfaction derived from purchases.
But there are other more crucial and far-reaching benefits. Shopping locally supports local job creation. Not only are small businesses the largest employer nationally, they provide the most jobs to local citizens.
Considered the backbone of the U.S. economy, small businesses have been responsible for creating about two-thirds of all new jobs in the U.S. over the past 20 years.
Small businesses build strong local economies that are more likely to weather recessions. Studies show that each dollar spent at independent businesses returns three times more money to the local economy than cash spent at a chain store. Local enterprises are also the customers of local accountants, wholesalers, attorneys, farmers, while big corporations tend to bypass such local entrepreneurs.
It’s documented that since local businesses generate more tax revenue per sales dollar, they build the local tax base, supporting various vital services. It’s also a fact that local businesses provide an average of 3.5 times more financial support to local non-profit groups and charities than national corporate stores.
Studies also indicate that local enterprises spend far more money locally, boosting local prosperity. Buying local minimizes impact on the environment, as it curbs sprawl and pollution while tending to encourage preservation of our communities’ architectural heritage.
Spending money with local entrepreneurs is an investment in keeping our communities unique, with their own distinctive character and charm. Small enterprises are owned by local citizens who have a long-term stake in the community and it’s future.
Most of all, however, spending money with local hometown businesses supports the kind of vibrant, cohesive community that we want to live in, with strong social interconnections, while it curbs materialism. Simply stated, buying local promotes a more fulfilling way of life.