Going local this holiday
One would have a hard time finding a bigger proponent or earlier adopter of internet shopping than me. I’ve been an ebay buyer since 1996 (wow!). I remember discovering this great online bookstore in 1999 called Amazon.com. In 2001, I decided to do all my holiday shopping online. I was overjoyed that I didn’t have to deal with crowds or the dreaded holiday muzak.
Fast forward to 2010. A recent article in the local media highlights the large budget shortfalls that the City of St. Louis faces. Furloughs and essential service cuts loom. The recession has hit local governments in many ways, but online sales have been driving local sales tax revenues down for a decade; not to mention that online sales are tough on local retailers. Independent businesses just cannot match the super low overhead of online businesses.
So I asked myself, how much do I value the services provided by my local government and my local retailers? It is easy to take for granted local police, firefighters, trash pickup, and water service. I love being able to walk to the local bookstore for good service and expertise about my latest obsession. Strolling down the street and happening upon the perfect gadget (that I didn’t even know I needed) is a low-stress way to spend my lunch hour. Obviously, it didn’t take me long to realize that I highly value these things. In addition to all this, I get piece of mind knowing that money spent locally largely stays in the community and provides local jobs.
So, I have decided to make a sea change this holiday season by doing as much of my holiday shopping at local retailers this season as I can. It may take a little more preparation and it may even cost a bit more (or maybe not?), but it is a small sacrifice considering all the benefits I receive.
ps. While you’re shopping locally, drop in to the local coffee shop for a welcome break and consider getting some gift certificates to some local favorite restaurants for those hard-to-buy-for folks on your list!