To shop, or to shop local?
That is the question many of us ponder throughout the year, as we are faced with more shopping options than ever before.
It used to be that people had no option but to shop locally. Then catalogues came along, making it easier to purchase items from farther away, often without leaving the house.
Catalogue shopping turned into online shopping. Now, no matter where you live, a whole world of goods is available 24/7 from your computer.
Living in rural B.C. has its benefits, but it also has its challenges. As consumers living in a small town, online shopping is a boon for many. It’s also easy to travel to a larger centre, which can lead to a full day of shopping. It’s tempting to feel we’re saving money at big box retailers with their low prices.
However, if you include the cost of fuel, meals, snacks, and perhaps those impulse buys that somehow find their way into the shopping cart, you can end up spending more — in dollars and in time — than if you had purchased the same items locally.
Did you know that for every $100 spent in a locally-owned business, $68 will stay in the community? Local businesses create jobs, provide services, and give back to the local area. Throughout the year they support community groups, students, and fundraisers.
Take a look at the jerseys worn by local sports teams, and the businesses that sponsor them. Pay attention to who has donated items for the fundraising silent auction or as raffle prizes for a local organization. You don’t see Amazon or Walmart there.
Have you considered how much those donations and sponsorships cost these business? Yet every year those same businesses support the causes that are near and dear to the hearts of local residents.
There are still three more weeks before Christmas, and many people will be looking for gifts. Before you head off to the big city, or turn to your computer, think about shopping local.
We often don’t think about all the options available to us in a small community. Rather than purchasing yet another appliance or gadget that ends up gathering dust, give the gift of a meal out, a tire or oil change, baking, a lovely piece of local art, jewellery, or a unique gift item that can only be found in an independent business. You might be amazed at what you can find.
If you are shopping for someone who you know uses a local business, and aren’t sure what to get them, consider a gift certificate or gift card. It gives the business a helpful cash injection, and means the recipient can get exactly what they want.
Christmas gifts can be practical, and many times these are appreciated as much — if not more — than the sweater that ends up in the cupboard and is never worn. We all have friends who have their own businesses, so let’s show them some love and shop local, support local, and give local for Christmas this year.