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Your Town Matters! Shop Where Everybody Knows Your Name.

Updated November 15, 2021
Professional headshot of Peggy Schlechter

Peggy Schlechter

SDSU Extension Community Vitality Field Specialist

Mother with two young children shopping at a holiday craft fair.
Courtesy: Canva

It’s sure a busy time of year. In addition to parties, programs and good cheer, we spend time shopping for that perfect gift. And do we spend money! In fact, Christmas is typically the largest economic stimulus for many nations around the world. It is estimated that about 20% of retail sales each year are a result of the Christmas shopping season.

So, if you have not yet finished your holiday shopping — or, like me, haven't started it yet — then I would like to suggest a challenge. Forget about internet shopping. Put down your credit card and phone. Close the browser window that’s open to Amazon, eBay and the like. Put on your boots and coat. Head to locally owned businesses. Step into a store. Exchange greetings with the store owner (you probably already know them). Relax. This is supposed to be the time of year to give thanks and praise. It should be fun, not stressful. This is a time to savor.

Shopping local allows you to make an impact in your community. Saturday, Nov. 27 is Small Business Saturday. Since 2011, Small Business Saturday reminds shoppers to show support for your locally owned businesses. An article shared by Farm Bureau Financial Services about the history of Small Business Saturday estimated that consumers have spent more than $120 billion at small businesses on that day alone over the past 10 years! While that is a lot of money, Small Business Saturday is designed to encourage us to “shop small” throughout the year. As consumers, we play a key role in helping the small businesses in our community not only survive but thrive.

"When you shop at home, you are creating and retaining jobs in your community, funding community services... and promoting community development."

— Peggy Schlechter, SDSU Extension Community Vitality Field Specialist
Hardware store owner assisting a customer.
Courtesy: Canva

When you stop into the local hardware store, repair shop, hair salon or jewelry store, it’s nice to know that someone working there knows your name. We all love going “where everybody knows your name” just like the theme song of the long-ago television show “Cheers” suggests.

Find a gift for a family member or friend, something that you can examine, touch and feel, knowing exactly what you’re getting. All your questions about that item can be answered on the spot. Hand over your money, placing it in the hands of the local business owner or employee. Remember, this person lives within your own community. He or she has worked tirelessly to open this business and to keep it afloat in an unpredictable economy. This person dedicates long hours to finding and ordering products, stocking shelves and fending off competition from the big-box stores and the internet.

This person is grateful to you for your business, because it makes a difference, unlike the giant retailers for whom your dollars are mere drops in the ocean. This person relies on your purchase to cover rent, to put food on the table, to pay off a house and to buy a new snowsuit for a child. Tell people where you shopped. Promote the stores, encourage others to go there, spread the word. Feel satisfied about the fact that you’ve redirected your own hard-earned money into the hands of other hard-working local business owners.

When you shop at your locally owned businesses, your dollars are voting for your community's success and for small business success. Yes, you are “voting with your wallet.” In general, for each one dollar spent at a locally owned business, 68 cents remains in the community. This has a direct impact on everyone in the area, including you and your family. When you shop at home, you are creating and retaining jobs in your community, funding more community services (such as schools, streets, public parks and pools) through sales tax and promoting community development.

Father and son accepting a coat at a community coat drive.
Courtesy: Canva

Locally owned businesses recycle a large share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community. Local business owners and their employees invest in the community by volunteering their time at non-profit events, coaching sports teams, sponsoring activities and projects, etc. According to the organization, Sustainable Connections, small businesses donate 250% more than national chains to local nonprofits, events and teams.

When small businesses experience growth, they can expand their goods and services, making an even larger selection available closer to home. When shopping local, remember home-based businesses as well. Home-based business owners may not have a storefront, but they are still asked for donations and collect sales tax that comes back to your community.

Did you know that shopping locally also reduces your environmental impact? You are able to reduce the miles you drive to shop and in turn reduce your fuel consumption. There are fewer individual shipments, which reduces the amount of fuel and packaging used. It is unlikely that driving a 100-mile round trip to purchase groceries so you can save a few dollars saves you any money at all.

Michael Shuman, author of “Going Local” and “The Small-Mart Revolution,” has written, “Going local does not mean walling off the outside world. It means nurturing locally owned businesses and serving primarily local consumers. It means becoming more self-sufficient. Control moves from the boardrooms of distant corporations and back into the community where it belongs.”

Remember the impact your dollars have on your local community. Shopping and doing business at home is all it takes to improve and grow the community we love, live in, work in and that gives back to us. Gather your friends or family members and get out in your community. Support local shops this holiday shopping season and into the new year. I know I will.