With the holidays come the obligatory — and often stressful — holiday shopping season. We all want to find the perfect gift for those we love. After all, Christmas is all about giving. This season, the thing that may set your gift apart is shopping locally.
Next to the numerous benefits that accompany picking gifts from local shops, you can save headaches and money. Shopping locally enables us to avoid the big crowds at box stores with hordes of people looking to take advantage of advertised deals. Instead, you can pick unique gifts that will make a lasting impression and create a special bond between you and your community.
Local shops often carry handmade items or unique crafts and gifts not found in run-of-the-mill department stores. Although these can sometimes be more expensive, you save money by buying fewer items because there’s more sentimental value in a gift you take the time to carefully pick and find.
Sentimental value is always higher than retail.
Since it is the time of giving and being thankful, it’s also important to note how helpful it can be to you and those around you. By supporting local businesses, you help local economies and put more money in your neighbors’ pockets. A rising tide lifts all boats, and this is especially true in small towns. On the flip side, too many dollars diverted away from local shops put these shop owners at risk — and the boats could capsize.
“Local businesses are what make towns unique. Big-box stores can exist anywhere. By supporting local businesses, you are supporting the personality of your town and strengthening its financial backbone,” said Maggie Oliver, owner of Eastcraeft Boutique and Bazaar, a small business in Lisbon Falls, Maine.
A New York woman and mother of two sons said she enjoys shopping locally in her small town for several reasons: “It’s quicker, easier, the quality is good and I don’t mind paying a little more for the convenience and experience of it. Plus, there’s a sort of comfort that comes with it. If I have a problem with an item, I can return it easily. If I have a question, I know who to ask. The service is great and regular customers are treated well.”
A civic economics study in Michigan found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 stays in the community. On the other hand, the same amount of money spent at a non-local business produces only $43 for the local community.
The holiday shopping season has a negative connotation attached to it as a result of Black Friday drama and stressful shopping experiences. The mere thought of shopping induces anxiety for people. Between the pressure to find the perfect gifts and the time, expense, and hassle involved, it’s no wonder the Christmas season is creating a “bah humbug” feeling in some.
Shopping locally helps to fight those shopping blues by typically providing a better shopping experience. Mom-and-pop operations deliver better expertise and recommendations because the owners of these small businesses are directly responsible for their organization’s success.
It’s a stark contrast from employees manning the registers at big-box stores, counting down the minutes until they’re off the clock. Keeping things local makes for better shopping experiences — with the added benefit of fostering relationships in your community.
If you want to take a different approach this year and avoid the clichés of holiday shopping, then keep things local. You can find unique gifts, help your local economy, build relationships with your neighbors, and avoid the stress that leads to holiday horrors.