’Tis the season to be thinking local for shopping

It’s become a proud American tradition.

The day after Thanksgiving, affectionately coined as “Black Friday,” sees credit cards and Christmas savings accounts explode as consumers flock to the stores to take advantage of sale prices and get a jump on their holiday shopping. Of course, we are now seeing some stores open Thanksgiving afternoon and evening to allow that splurging to start even sooner than before, with zero to little disregard for their employees enjoying the holiday, as well.

Regardless, the end of Thanksgiving means the dawn of the shopping season in this country, and box stores, online shopping destinations and all points in between will be swamped by people looking to get that “steal” of a deal for that special someone.

We happily suggest that you remember to “shop local” this year.

There’s no doubt that the national chains are the place to go for some select gifts that make their way to people’s wishlists. They buy in bulk and can provide a competitive price — and that’s something all of us hold in high regard this time of year. Plus, in a smaller community like ours, there are just some items you can’t find locally.

However, there are very real and distinct advantages to shopping local. For instance, there is a little more sentiment involved when you give a local gift to someone from outside this area. Think of how world leaders exchange gifts from their home nations to represent sharing and acceptance.

There is also the local economic impact. You spending your dollars in a place owned by local people keeps that money pumping in our economy, as well as helps that business keep its doors open. The healthier that business is, the better their selection of merchandise is, and the more people they need to hire to keep things running smoothly.

We’re talking jobs. We’re talking increased local spending. We’re talking convenience for all of us as these places stay in business.

Yes, the Internet now allows us to buy nearly anything we want or need from the comfort of our own homes, and it is without question a helpful tool. But relying on the Internet alone, or hitting the big box stores at the expense of everyone else, will only help out those big box stores or national chains or manufacturing companies. You won’t be able to find unique local paintings and maybe talk to the artist online, or hear the story about how something was discovered like you could in a local shop. Make it an experience and enjoy some of the ride.

Step outside the box a little this year and shop local.