Other’s opinion: Where you shop matters. Your dollars matter

Published 5:41 pm Tuesday, November 30, 2021

St. Cloud Times

The shopping mall we have access too in 2021 is literally the whole world. A few clicks, a string of digits off a credit card and any gift from anywhere will show up on your doorstep.

Retail has been heading toward this truly global marketplace for years. The pandemic accelerated the widespread user experience solutions that turned it into a tool for every generation. After all, once you trust someone to deliver the food you’ll eat and the prescriptions you’ll take, all the barriers are down when it’s time to shop for stocking stuffers.

Those changes are a boon in many ways. Auto-delivery of household staples saves time and means what families need is always on hand — laundry detergent, coffee, cat litter or fruit snacks.

For the elderly, the handicapped or anyone who struggles with mobility doorstep delivery is an indispensible, independence-preserving convenience.

Still, holidays are supposed to be about giving. Consider how the choices you make with your gift spending can give twice — to the recipient, and to businesses that not only support the Central Minnesota economy, but also help support our quality of life.

Here are 9 reasons to spend dollars at local businesses whenever you can this holiday season — and beyond:

1. Local dollars are more likely to stay local. And that means money spent here will be respent here. Studies have shown that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 stays in that community — far more than the estimated $43 that remains local for every $100 spent at a national retailer.

The proceeds of local purchases are more likely to be donated to local causes, used to support local schools, pay local taxes and make new local investments. More of your money stays here and stands a chance of serving you in some way. What a great gift-with-purchase.

2. Local businesses help retain the unique features of cities. A big-box store is the same wherever its sited — same signage, same architecture, same products, same prices. Locally owned stores reflect what’s special about your town, in turn making your town even more special (maybe even a destination).

3. Shopping local reduces packing waste or, put another way, keeps you from being injured in an avalanche of empty, oversized cardboard delivery boxes.

4. No porch pirates.

5. Want to take the kids to see Santa? Amazon can’t help you there. Want a sample cookie, or to see amazing holiday decorations you didn’t have to put up yourself? You’re looking for a local shopping experience.

6. You’ll stand out. When most of the gifts under the tree are available to everyone, everywhere, the well-chosen gift from a well-curated local business sends a message that you chose your gifts deliberately, not just conveniently. And who doesn’t want to be known as a great gift-giver?

7. Better customer service.

8. Spending local builds social capital. Chatting with the owner as you shop, even if it’s just an offer to help you find an item, is human connection. Running into a former classmate isn’t going to happen when you click “Go to checkout” with your mouse.

9. If giving a gift feels good, giving a gift that also helps a neighbor succeed feels even better.

In any economy, we generally get more of whatever we spend our money on. If you want more local, unique, interesting, successful small businesses with products that aren’t the same as those in Anytown, USA, the choice is clear: Spend local. It’s good for you, too.

This is the opinion of the Times Editorial Board which includes News Director Lisa Schwarz and Content Coach Anna Haecherl.