Be a good neighbor to your local merchants this holiday
I am as tempted as anyone by an online discount, but I am also trying to remember to shop locally when possible this holiday. More money stays in your community when you spend at locally-owned independent stores. Civic Economics says 68 cents of every dollar spent at a locally owned business stays in the community, while only 43 cents stays when spent at a chain. And zero dollars from online shopping goes to your local community.
This is a positive side of capitalism, which has taken such serious blows lately. Aren't these local stores and merchants part of what makes each town special? I worry about reaching the day when you could be dropped into any town in America and have a heck of a hard time actually determining where you are. Don't all Big Box shopping centers look alike?
TriangleMom2Mom blogger Diane Neer shared this story "Bookseller to the rescue" about our local bookstore owner in today's Raleigh News & Observer:
Last year I ended up in the hospital at UNC-Chapel Hill for 13 days, including Christmas and New Year's Day. It was my depression, coming to haunt me at the time of year when anything less than jolly frivolity is seen as suspect. With the help of too many doctors to mention and the surprisingly intense companionship of my fellow patients, I got better and I got perspective.
A couple of days before Christmas, I finished the books my husband had brought me and found myself bookless, a state that causes me great anxiety. I asked some of the nurses whether there was a good bookstore in the area and they recommended Market Street Books. From the community phone in the hall, I called and spoke to the owner, Kathryn, and explained my plight. I figured that if I told her what books I wanted and gave her my (memorized, of course) credit card number, maybe she could have the books sent to me at the hospital overnight.
Instead, Kathryn gathered my books and personally delivered them to the hospital where they filled the remainder of my stay with one of my most reliable medications: something good to read. Kathryn may be personally responsible for the demise of my “bah, humbug” attitude and the rise of the importance of family, which for me includes blood relatives, an amazing abundance of friends and, thanks to Kathryn, the community of people who care about people they don't even know and give without judgment to those who might not be having such a great holiday.
Only a local merchant can even think of giving such personal, above-and-beyond service. Kathryn is a great asset to the community, a friend and a mentor who encouraged me as an emerging writer and hosted the very first book event for Mojo Mom. She is near and dear to my heart and many people in Chapel Hill.
So don't just think about the merchants in your town who make a difference, be sure to devote some of your holiday budget to supporting their work through your gift purchases.