There is a joy to shopping in local stores at the holidays, to participating in community traditions and celebrations, to walking along a sidewalk with the streets decked out for the holidays, to being greeting by someone likely to be the owner of the store, to finding gifts that are not mass-produced.
One way to be sure holiday shopping comes with some holiday spirit is to do a portion of your shopping in some of the area’s locally owned stores. There is special holiday ambiance available by shopping in the heart of a community that is decked out for the season. Small retail shops are part of defining any community. Their livelihood depends on the livability and quality of the neighborhoods around them. A small business owner pays attention to every detail in his or her business in a way that is otherwise unmatched.
We all benefit when local stores thrive, when local business districts beckon. An effort to support locally owned businesses has resulted in the recognition of Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, also called Shop Small. This year that day is Nov. 29.
Locally owned retail shops, services, restaurants depend on vibrant local communities to thrive, and communities depend on those businesses as well. Most small, locally owned businesses invest in community, helping to transform our towns and communities with a sense of place.
Frequently, it is the small retail person who is active in fundraising for local charities, advocating for improvements, for fire and rescue service, for local schools and in organizing holiday events.
Local retail stores, mom-and-pop stores, face tough challenges right now. Competition from big box stores and online sellers makes the holiday shopping season all the more important to locally owned retailers. But local families will literally spend millions of dollars to shop and exchange gifts during the next month, spending tens of millions of dollars in a variety of places.
Everyone will do some of their shopping at the mall. Everyone will do some shopping online. Many will answer the call of the big box. But local shoppers should be sure to save some shopping time and dollars for local stores. Spend some time shopping in your own community, and also plan an excursion to a nearby town to check out the local businesses and holiday spirit there.
The Connection is participating in Shop Small 2014, email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.