Our View: Shop locally and strengthen your community
We’ve got a good idea for Saturday: Shop local and support small businesses.
Small Business Saturday, which has been around since 2010, has become a Thanksgiving weekend tradition. We would argue it’s possibly even more important to your community’s well-being than Black Friday sales.
Small Business Saturday is intended to support local Main Street businesses that might otherwise get lost in the holiday shopping scramble. The big box stores and national chains will get their share of customers this weekend.
But don’t let local shops and entrepreneurs, most of them classified as small businesses, get overlooked.
That’s the idea behind a new Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce campaign, “Shop Local First.”
“We want to encourage people to think about the benefits of shopping locally,” said Kathleen Harrington, president of the chamber. She said the campaign, which launches, this week, will be an ongoing effort, beyond just the holiday season, to help local businesses compete with online shopping. “We’ll have billboards, social media, grassroots, door-to-door,” she said.
For example, local retailers will be given customer appreciation packages, including Thank You cards they can hand out to customers.
Need some reasons to shop at local and small businesses?
• You’re supporting your neighbors. Local business owners live in your town, pay taxes, coach your kids’ sports teams, serve on local boards. They pay for music lessons for their kids, health club dues and cable bills. They hire local workers. Buy online or out of town and you’re giving away all those local benefits.
• Buying locally builds a stronger tax base for your community. That, in turn, supports local public services, such as fire and police protection, roads, parks and schools.
• Communities that support local businesses will attract customers from communities that don’t. In the bargain, other entrepreneurs will take a look at your town and decide it’s a good place to launch a new venture.
• Buying locally reduces environmental impact. First, you’re not driving all over the place to shop, and secondly, not as many trucks are driving up and down your street making deliveries.
• Local businesses make donations to local nonprofit organizations that support arts, youth sports and other community activities.
We’re not advocating shopping exclusively at locally owned businesses. National chains also hire locally, donate to charities, sponsor sports teams and pay taxes. What we are saying is spend your shopping dollars locally if at all possible. Then watch how much more vibrant your community becomes.
By the way, after a full day of shopping locally on Saturday, why not top it off with a nice dinner at a local restaurant?