Ten great reasons to shop locally this holiday season

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The holiday season is upon us and many of you have probably begun your holiday shopping whether driving miles to fight the crowds for a bargain on Black Friday or surfing the Web for one-day on-line deals on Black Monday, you along with millions of other shoppers are hoping to find those unique, one-of-a-kind gifts this holiday season.
Holidays are stressful, with office parties, family gatherings and holiday shopping, not to mention the expense of it all. And if you are seeking a unique one-of-a kind gift for that special someone on your list, chances are after driving 50-100 miles (one-way) you won’t find it at one of those “box stores” or “corporate” companies, no matter how hard you search. Instead, spend your time (and your money) by shopping locally this holiday season. You might be surprised at the glorious gifts you can find right in your hometown, not to mention the benefits of shopping locally. Here are 10 reasons why a person should shop locally and the benefits to the local community:
n Keep the money in the community.
n Keep jobs in the community.
n Keep the tax flow community-based.
n Keep the scale small and livable.
n Keeping the decision making local.
n Keep the local option.
n Keep customer service orientated.
n Keep authenticity and diversity.
n Keep transportation costs down and reduce our carbon footprint on the earth.
n Keep the social experience.
So you’re thinking, how are those 10 reasons beneficial? Let’s begin with keeping the tax flow community based.
When speaking with a couple of Meeker merchants, this was the number one reason they gave for encouraging local shopping. Sales tax revenue generated in the community stays in the community and provides beneficial services such as snow plowing of town streets, wood chipping services to in-town residents and the recycling center.
Merchants also stated shopping locally keeps money in the community as they give to local organizations such as the Boy and Girl Scouts, the Giving Tree, the local food bank, as well as local 4-H groups and many other community-based organizations. Not only are you supporting local merchants when you shop locally, you also support important community based organizations.
Another benefit of shopping locally: keeping transportation costs down and reducing our carbon footprint.
In a time of extreme energy consumption and prices, along with global warming, shopping locally reduces travel to box stores. Rio Blanco residents generally travel anywhere from 50 to 100 (or more) miles one way to shop the large “one-stop shopping” stores such as Wal Mart.
With gas prices escalating to more than $4 per gallon this year, not to mention vehicle wear and tear, shopping locally helps keep transportation costs down and reduces our carbon foot print on the earth as we consume less gas, and eliminate harmful emissions into the atmosphere. In a time of “going green” this is one small way everyone can do their part.
For many people, the biggest reason for shopping locally is two-fold; the shopping experience is more personal and you can find those unique one-of-a kind items the big-box stores don’t carry. In small communities where “everyone knows everyone,” local merchants have a better understanding of people’s needs and wants.
Local merchants are willing to go the “extra mile” and if you don’t see it, ask, chances are they can order it for you. Special orders are the norm in small communities. Along with understanding people’s wants and needs, local merchants also provide exceptional customer service.
Many merchants will make recommendations for gifts (especially if they know the person you are shopping for), provide gift registries and free gift wrapping. For local merchants, it’s all about making your shopping experience a satisfying and stress free experience and to ensure you will shop there again.
By now you are saying to yourself, these are good reasons to shop locally, but it doesn’t compare to the money I save by shopping at the box stores. That isn’t always the case as Gary Dunham, owner of Meeker General Mercantile stated, “Don’t assume that the product is not available or that the prices are too high.”
This is great advice, and if you consider all these factors: gas prices, miles traveled, lack of personal service, long lines, grouchy store employees and rude stressed people, still without finding that special, one-of-a-kind gift, is it worth shopping the big box-store?
When you shop locally, you will be greeted with a smile and receive assistance from friendly merchants who know their products. As well, shopping locally has great perks which you don’t receive at large retail stores.
Overall, local merchants will provide you with a unique one-of-a-kind shopping experience. So treat yourself to a stress-free shopping experience this holiday season by shopping locally and happy holidays!

Niemi is the administrative assistant for the town of Meeker.